by Lily Brooks
When you begin your journey towards a healthier diet, you start to change some of your old eating habits to account for proper and more balanced nutrition. However, this is often forgotten when dining out. Sharing a meal with friends and family is considered to be a relaxing time. On such social occasions, we allow ourselves to indulge and consider it a cheat day. But there are steps you can take to make your dining experience healthier. Here are a few of them.
Pay close attention to the menu
Most people very seldom read the finer points of the menu when dining out. Restaurants often list all the ingredients that are included in the menu item to help patrons who have specific dietary restrictions or allergies. This also helps those who are watching what they eat to be more informed on which food to order. As a general rule, avoid eating food that has unhealthy ingredients included in them. Try to stick to menu items that use fresh and healthier ingredients.
Have a snack before dining out
Often we try to avoid eating when we know we’re going to dine out with friends or family. But if you’re trying to watch what you eat, or working towards a healthier diet, then making and eating a healthy snack before arriving at the restaurant will make you more conscious on what to order, especially in places that are known for not really offering a lot of healthy options. Also, having a snack before getting to the restaurant will help you from overeating. A good snack option would be one that is low in calories and high in protein.
Drink water while eating
Water is not only hydrating but it also helps you to feel full a lot faster when dining out. Water aids in digestion which means our body has an easier time breaking down the food and absorbing its nutrients. Water also helps us pace while we eat. And taking a small sip of water after every bite is going to cleanse our mouth which makes us enjoy the food a lot more. Try to avoid ordering fizzy or sugary drinks. It not only adds extra calories but the sugar taints the natural taste and texture of the food.
Know how the food is prepared and cooked
How the food is prepared and cooked has an impact on how many calories the food has. Grilled or smoked food items don’t have as many extra calories as those that have been deep-fried. The best cooking style for healthier food is when it is steamed, roasted, poached, and grilled. These types of cooking methods don’t expose the ingredients to extra fat and oil. The next time you visit your local burger restaurant, pay attention to how it is prepared.
Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating is when you give your full attention to the food that you eat, taking the time to appreciate the texture, taste, and smell of food. Many people agree that they become more satisfied with their meals without having to over-consume or go for second servings. Enjoying the eating process also means slowing your pace and thus giving your stomach enough time to send a signal to the brain to tell it that it is full.
Order first before everyone else
You can subtly influence what other people order when you dine out together. Usually, in social situations, people tend to mimic one another without knowing. Dining out is a perfect example. When you first place an order for a salad, others will also consider getting one as well. When you forgo the soda and opt for water, others will also stick to water as well. This is a great yet subtle way of helping others to become more health-conscious with their diet.
Stick with coffee and skip the dessert
It is part of many people’s eating habits to have something sweet after their meal. However, this is not a hard rule and you can certainly break it. A hearty meal is already providing your body with enough calories and nutrients to keep it powered. Ordering dessert, though satisfying, only adds more calories to your diet and often this is unnecessary. Instead of asking for the dessert menu once you finish your meal, how about ordering a cup of coffee or tea instead?