7 Ways to Eat Healthy When Dining Out

  • 8 months   ago
For many people, having a healthy diet often means preparing and cooking their food and eating at home as often as possible. Dining out, therefore, is not a usual option and often considered an occasional treat and not a weekly activity.
However, dining out shouldn’t be equated to eating unhealthy, calorie-loaded dishes. Nearly all restaurants today have menu items suitable for health-conscious diners.
Because of this, there is no reason for you to avoid restaurants, even if you are on a strict diet.
Eating Out Without the Guilt
Below are seven tips you can follow to enjoy a delicious, filling, and healthy meal when you eat at a restaurant:
1. Read the menu before heading to the restaurant.
Whether you are planning to have dinner at a steakhouse with your friends or eat alone for lunch, before leaving your office or home, spend a few minutes going over the restaurant’s menu.
Visit the restaurant website and check their menu. If you don’t find any healthy offerings, you may want to consider going to another one.
Reading the restaurant’s offerings can also help you decide what to order in advance. If you find an item interesting on their steak and seafood menu but are not sure if it is a healthy dish, you can research it online to see if it fits the bill.
This step also allows you to know how much you can expect to spend on your meal.
2. Order a healthy appetizer.
If you are keeping a close watch on your calorie intake, you may think that skipping the appetizers is a good way to stay within your limit. However, this is not exactly true.
Eating a salad before moving on to your main dish can help you avoid overindulging. Your appetizer will make you feel full, which means you won’t be tempted to order a hearty main course. And even if you order a heavy main dish, if you are full from the salad, you won’t be able to finish it, which means fewer calories for you. You can take the leftovers home and eat them on another day.
3. Don’t skip the meat.
Beef, chicken, lamb, fish, and other types of meat are rich in protein, thus making for a filling meal. A serving of these will make you feel full without the need to load up on empty carbs.
If you are in the mood for a steak, opt for lean cuts, such as sirloin, filet mignon, tenderloin, and flank steak, since these are lower in fat and calories.
Chicken, particularly the breast part, is also another excellent option as it contains high amounts of protein yet is low in fat.
Nearly all restaurants have seafood on their menu as well, including steakhouses. As such, you can also order fish since it is a good source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which offer health benefits to your brain and heart.
4. Opt for healthy cooking methods.
Even if you order a lean cut of steak and vegetables, the way these are prepared could turn them into high calorie and fatty dishes. As such, when ordering, find out how the food is cooked if they do not state it on the menu.
Grilled, steamed, boiled, and baked are healthy cooking methods since these do not require the use of oil. Stir-fry is another good option since only a small amount of oil is needed.
Limit your choices to dishes prepared using these methods if you want to have a healthy meal.
If the dishes you are interested in are all fried, find out if you can order these grilled or baked. Most restaurants are happy to satisfy their diners’ requests, so don’t be afraid to ask.
5. Order healthy sides.
A meal won’t be complete without a side dish or two. However, try to order healthy options so you can still stick to your diet and not feel guilty about eating out.
Opt for a salad or roasted and baked veggies instead of fried or pasta dishes as your side. Raw and lightly cooked vegetables are always healthier choices since these contain more nutrients. Moreover, they have less fat and calories, allowing you to stay within your calorie count.
If the dish comes with preset sides, as fries or buttered vegetables, find out if you can have those replaced with a baked potato or steamed veggies. Again, there is no harm in asking the waitstaff.
6. Ask for the sauce and dressing to be served on the side.
Whether you are ordering a salad or steak, make sure you enjoy a low-cal dish by asking for the sauce to be served separately.
If you order a steak, lamb chop, or fish, have the sauce placed in a bowl or gravy boat instead of putting it over the meat. By doing so, you can control the amount you’ll be putting in your food.
Do the same for your salad. Have the dressing served in a bowl, dip your empty fork into it, then skewer a forkful of salad. Your veggies will taste great even if it they not drenched in sauce.
Keep in mind that sauces and dressings can be calorie bombs, especially if you add too much to your dishes. Having these served on the side can help you limit your consumption and still have a healthy, tasty meal.
7. Sip water throughout the meal.
As the healthiest beverage around, water is the perfect drink to accompany your meal.
Drinking water during meal time can help you avoid eating your food too fast.  This will help you enjoy your meal more and allow your brain to get the message from your stomach that you are full, which will prevent you from overeating.  
If you want to drink more water during your meal, ask if you can have a slice of lemon or cucumber and mint in your glass. Drinking naturally flavored water is one of the best healthy trends around, which you should jump on.
If you want to order the house specialty drink, do so only after you have finished your first glass of water. And continue sipping water throughout your meal.
Although there is nothing wrong with indulging in a steak or surf and turf dinner now and then, you can do this more frequently if you think you deserve a special treat or reward. Follow these tips so you can enjoy a delicious meal without the guilt and stay committed to your health goals.
Mohamed Farzad is the Director of Nippon Group of Companies. One of the Nippon Hospitality Division's premium projects is Doors Freestyle Grill, a premium steakhouse and international fusion cuisine-lifestyle dining concept set across the spellbinding Al Seef heritage district in Dubai.