Want to know the secret to dining out smarter your next meal?
Dining out can be disastrous on your health if you don’t know the right choices to make. Follow these tips so you don’t feel bloated and gassy or gain weight!
Healthier Dining Out Approach
The secret to dining out smarter is to take a healthier approach.
Dining out with friends and family can be so much fun! It’s an opportunity to be social and connect with those you enjoy spending time with. Plus, you get a much needed night off from cooking and doing dishes. And everyone orders exactly what they want. In other words, it’s nourishing on more than just a physical level.
Dining out allows you to indulge your senses and support your sanity.
No one likes to feel deprived. Eating healthy is great, but doing it ALL the time can be unhealthy. That’s right, it can be counterproductive to be too restrictive with your diet. It’s much healthier to take a fun and flexible attitude to eating well. You deserve to enjoy food without feeling guilty or bad afterward. However, you don’t have to compromise your health every time you dine out. Follow the tips below to dine out healthier at your next meal.
10 Tips for Dining Out Smarter
1. Plan Ahead
Dining out smarter starts with a little planning. Set-up for success by viewing menus ahead of time. Pick healthier options before you arrive. This makes it easier to avoid snap decisions you’ll regret later. If you know you can’t resist pasta or dessert, then make it a “cheat” meal.
2. Stay Hydrated
It’ll be much easier to dine out smarter when you’re hydrated. Sometimes you can think you’re hungry when you’re actually thirsty. Hydrate before you get to the restaurant and before your meal. Hydrating can help replenish the body and prevent overeating.
Stick to water with lemon or lime juice added as your main beverage.
Cucumber or fruit-infused water can be refreshing and hydrating options. Warm ginger tea with lemon can improve digestion. The next best choices are those from simple, minimal-ingredient beverages. For example, sparkling water, unsweetened tea and kombucha.
Limit caffeine to 2 cups daily. Replace dairy creamers with unsweetened coconut, almond, oat or hemp milk. Add raw honey or stevia if desired.
3. Choose Whole Foods
Whether dining out or in, choose natural, whole foods over man-made processed products.
The more unprocessed foods you choose, the better.
Whole, single-ingredient foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts are high in nutrients that support health. The less refined food is, the greater the health benefits.
4. Go For the Greens
One easy way to dine out smarter is to eat more vegetables. Eating vegetables leaves less room for refined carbs such as bread, pasta, chips, and fries. Eat more colorful veg, such as spinach, asparagus, red peppers, and carrots.
Starchy veg, such as red potatoes and sweet potatoes, can be healthier alternatives to refined carbs such as pasta, bread and chips. Boost nutrients by choosing salads and lettuce wraps.
Go without gluten or gluten-free when available. Foods containing gluten, such as bread, baked goods, pasta, barley, etc. contain high amounts of the herbicide Roundup. This chemical is toxic. It can increase inflammation, digestive issues and other health problems. If you can’t resist bread, select sourdough or “sprouted” varieties and make it a half sandwich.
5. Get the Right Fat
Select natural fats such as avocados, olives, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. Most restaurant sauces and dressings, especially “low-fat” ones, have added sugar. Ask for sauces, dips and dressings on the side. Avocado, olive, or sesame oil and vinegar can be a great alternative to sugary dressings. Lastly, this goes without saying, but avoid anything fried or deep-fried.
6. Swap Your Salt
Most dining out options are dehydrating because restaurants season food with table salt. Table salt contains sodium, chloride, aluminum anti-caking agents, bleach and other harmful additives. Sea salt is natural and balanced. It contains 84 minerals and trace elements as nature intended.
Order your food unsalted when possible. Either skip the salt or pack a little baggie of quality sea salt to DIY.
Dulse or kelp seaweed flakes are also great, mineral-rich alternatives.
7. Learn to Lemonize
Lemons are a secret ingredient for dining out smarter. Add fresh lemon juice to water, tea, salads, veggies, chicken, and fish for extra flavor. Rich in vitamin C and potassium, lemons support weight loss, improve digestion, and aid detoxification.
8. Eat More Mindfully
Dine out smarter by eating more mindfully. When you improve how you eat, you’ll automatically improve what you eat. Practice pausing and putting utensils down between bites. Engage your senses to savor the aromas and flavors. This helps you stay present and allows you to fully chew food before reaching for more. This combination of small changes and awareness produce the most effective results.
9. Strategize Your Splurges
Sometimes you don’t want to dine out smarter. You want to splurge!
The best way to indulge is to plan 2 cheat meals a week or follow a 3-bite rule.
The three-bite rule is exactly as it sounds, enjoy three bites and call it quits. Make your cheat meal special. Take your time, savoring each bite, and letting go of any guilty feelings. Food is more than fuel. Allow yourself to nourish your body, have fun and be social.
10. Choose Better Booze
Nix most mixed drinks and beware specialty cocktails that sound like desserts in a glass. Opt for healthier libations made from simple ingredients. For example, wine, lite beer or a spirit straight-up. For every alcoholic beverage, drink at least one glass of lemon water.
Choose natural sweeteners like raw honey, stevia, fruit or 100 percent fruit juice. Pinot Noir is top shelf. It contains decent amounts of the anti-aging antioxidant resveratrol.
Healthier Dining Out Examples
Restaurant Healthy Eating Checklist
- Eat mostly colorful carbs, such as veggies and fruits.
- Enjoy some quality protein and natural fat.
- Drink water with lime or lemon juice.
- Order simple proteins and enjoy sauces on the side.
- Avoid breaded or fried menu items.
- Opt for high-quality foods, such as organic and GMO-free.
- Add non-starchy vegetables.
- Choose healthy fats such as avocado, hummus or olives.
Dining Out — Salads
- Omit croutons, bread, roll, & other baked goods.
- Add protein such as beans, lentils, fish, or chicken.
- Ask for simple dressing*.
Dining Out — American Cuisine
- Grilled steak, chicken, fish or other protein
- Add veg: asparagus, broccoli, spinach, red potatoes
Dining Out — Middle Eastern Cuisine
- Greek salad with chicken/salmon and hummus with carrots/cucumber
- Omit croutons & order dressing on the side.
Dining Out — Burger Joint
- Omit bun & fries
- Add lettuce wrap with tomato, pickles, mustard, onions
- Enjoy a side of veggies, fruit or salad
Dining Out — Chinese Food
- Select simple proteins.
- Avoid anything fried, breaded or coated in sugary sauces.
- Add steamed brown rice.
- Enjoy extra veg (broccoli, carrots, peppers, spinach, etc.).
- Avoid noodles and keep sauces to a minimum.
Dining Out — Mexican Food
- Mushroom, chicken or fish tacos, taco salad or fajitas.
- Opt for corn tortillas for tacos.
- Choose non-re-fried beans.
- Add peppers, onions, salsa, & guacamole.
Dining Out — Pizza Place
- Order a thin crust that’s gluten-free or a cauliflower crust.
- Avoid processed meats such as pepperoni & ham.
Dining Out — Sports Bar
- Chicken, fish, steak or black bean burger
- Swap fries for a baked potato with guacamole/salsa/hummus.
- Add steamed veggies and avocado.
- Add a side salad with dressing *
* For a healthier dressing, enjoy avocado, sesame or olive oil and vinegar