Eating out regularly could disrupt your healthy eating goals, but planning ahead will keep you on track. Check out the restaurant menu ahead of time using a site like OpenTable and choose your order. You’ll make better decisions about what to eat in advance when you’re
- Focused on nutrition over taste
- Not too hungry
- Not swayed by other peoples’ choices
I live in Austin, Texas and we have TONS of amazing restaurants. One of my favorites is NoRTH in The Domain. If we were eating out together and you wanted some advice based off the menu, this would be it.
Three Quick Tips For a Healthy Restaurant Dining Experience
1. Look at the Menu Ahead of Time (and not at the restaurant)
Decide ahead of time what to order and then don’t even open the menu. It’s easy to be swayed by hunger, smells, and looking at other peoples’ food – don’t even tempt yourself, just stick to the plan!
2. Ask for Exactly What You Want
If something looks delicious but there are red flags in the description, don’t be afraid to ask for alternative preparation options.
- Instead of fried or crispy, can the item be grilled or baked?
- Can cheese, pancetta, or sauce be left on the side?
- Can salad dressing be served on the side?
3. Don’t Go Too Hungry
Saving your calories for a meal out is smart, as long as you aren’t starving when you arrive. This is a sure way to sabotage your healthy eating plans. Eat at regular intervals throughout the day, include protein, and drink plenty of water.
Tips From the Menu
Here are some things to look for on the menu, this specific example pulled up from the North menu on OpenTable Austin.
Appetizers: Avoid fried, crispy or heavy cheese items. Best options: braised meatballs or grilled artichokes
Salads: Salads have great nutritional value when heavy in vegetables, but if you’re watching calories avoid the ones with crispy pancetta and lots of cheese (or ask for these items on the side). Asking for dressing on the side is always a smart move to allow you to control extra calories and fat.
Pizza: Most meat pizza toppings are heavy in fat – and therefore calories. Vegetable toppings or the Margherita or Funghi will be lighter.
Sandwiches: Although a sandwich might sound like a healthy option, bread + cheese + fatty meat + mayo or sauce is not a good combo from a calorie and fat standpoint. Choose chicken or turkey, sauce or condiments on the side, and eat just half your bread.
Pasta and Mains: Similar to above – creamy sauces and cheese are not your friend, don’t be afraid to ask for them on the side! Focus on the lean protein (chicken, fish) and vegetables, and limit the pasta intake to a few delicious and well-savored bites.
Your Fail Safe: Portion control
One downfall of eating out is that portion sizes are typically huge. Whatever you end up ordering, don’t overdo it! Savor each bite and stop before you get too full (remember the 80% full concept).
I love eating out, and I fully believe you can stay healthy and still enjoy yourself.
What are some of your best tips for eating healthy when dining out?