Healthy Guide to Eating Out

It’s not realistic to think that for every meal you will be able to eat your perfectly portioned, macro-friendly, prepped meals. One of the important aspects of leading a healthy lifestyle is finding balance in your life: like going out to eat with your friends without the guilt of not eating the super nutritious meal you prepared for the week. 

It can become overwhelming when making healthy choices at restaurants, but we have some tips to ease the process and help keep you on track while eating out!
Plan as You Can 

Sometimes eating out is a spur of the moment decision, but if you know where you are going to be going, take some time to skim the menu before you go. You don’t have to have your full meal picked out before you arrive, but at least an idea of what your options are. You can find most menus for restaurants on Yelp or on the restaurant’s website. If you are going to have a hearty meal when you go out to eat, you can adjust the rest of the day’s eating to accommodate for that. 

Have it your Way 

You are not being annoying if you ask for customization or substitutions on menu items. Unless a menu specifically states that substitutions or changes are not allowed (which is rarely the case), feel free to ask for changes in how the dish is made or served.

Examples:

  • ask for no or light cheese, 
  • Substitute a greasy side for fruit or veggies
  • Order dry toast or bread to eliminate added butter
  • Order sauces or dressings on the side to control how much you put on
  • Ask if they have a grilled or baked option for any fried meats
  • Substitute whole eggs for egg whites when you go brunching. 
Ask Away 

If you have any dietary preferences or restrictions (vegan or vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten free) ask your waitress what menu items will accommodate them. Some restaurants have separate menus for those preferences or have menu items annotated that fit those preferences.  Ask how dishes are prepared such as what oils are used. Knowing this may help you decide which dishes will be best for you.

Understand Portions

You can leave your food scale at home in your kitchen when you go out to eat but still be aware of how much food you are given at restaurants. Restaurants in the U.S. are notorious for big portion sizes. On average, restaurant serving sizes are 2.5 times larger than the standard serving. When you order ask for a to-go box right away and put away half of the dish before you start eating.

Here’s a rule of thumb (pun definitely intended) for measuring portion size without measuring cups or scales:

E3HandyGuideIG

Eating out while working towards a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be daunting. It is possible to make sensible choices while enjoying a meal out with family and/or friends. Remember, a healthy lifestyle includes balance.

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