If you aim to eat healthy, the idea of going out to eat can be a nightmare. But you don’t want to give up your social life and make yourself an outsider just because you fear a healthy choice is almost impossible when eating out. You just have to do the best you can do.
I follow the 80/20 approach: 80% of my diet is clean, and the other 20% is foods that might not be 100% clean, but are still eaten with moderation in mind. Your body listens to what you do most of the time, not sometimes. Home-cooked meals are definitely the best option, but if you eat out once or twice that week, don't stress. That can be worse for your health than the meal itself. A stressed body means digestion havoc!
When you do choose to eat meals outside the home, here are a few general tips that can help ensure you make the best choices possible when it comes to your health.
1. Get fresh.
The first thing I look at in a restaurant menu is the salad selection. If the salad list contains an abundance of greens and veggies, then I know I can make a healthy choice. If there are limited salad options, look at the side options — usually you'll find a garden salad or steamed veggies to enjoy with your main meal. I also always recommend crunching on some raw food prior to a main meal to get your digestion fired up, so I usually order a big green salad as a starter.
2. Avoid fried.
Get excited about grilled and steamed! Those are the healthier cooking methods.
3. Stay lean.
My main meal usually is a choice of grilled fish, chicken or lean meat. If you're vegetarian you may believe that pasta and rice-based main courses may be your only choices, but this isn't true. If they don't have a vegetable-based main dish such as vegetable curry or minestrone soup, ask the waiter if you up a large salad with some cheese or egg, or an antipasto vegetable platter. You can also order a variety of vegetable sides.
4. Exclude the starch.
Ditch the rice and potatoes, and order extra veggies instead. Also, cut out more nasties by asking for dressings and sauces on the side.
5. Have a light snack beforehand.
Enjoy a protein-rich snack prior to eating out to keep your blood sugar stable and prevent you from over eating on the wrong foods at the restaurant.