It is summer time, and nearly every other night there is something going on: birthdays, catching up with friends, weddings, family gatherings, or the sound of eating dinner on a restaurant patio with a nice view is just too hard to pass up!
Not only is everyone eating out more, but many of us are trying to stick to our summer diets! But do not let going out and dining with friends discourage you!
Here are a few ways to make healthier food choices and still enjoy dining out:
1. PLAN ahead. Be more conscious of what you eat throughout the day before heading to the restaurant. If you plan to have a bigger meal at the restaurant, make sure to cut back on calories with the other meals during the day.
2. Know the KEYWORDS. To cut back on fat, and to watch your calories, choose foods that read “baked”, “broiled”, “grilled” or “steamed” rather then sautéed or fried items.
3. PORTION CONTROL. Many restaurants serve their meals in MASSIVE portions. If you know the restaurant does just that, split the meal with one or two other people. Helps cut the calories tremendously.
4. Be THAT customer. Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter to make a few changes to the meal. ASK if they can put the dressing on the side of your salad to avoid too many unnecessary calories. Ask if they have healthier alternatives such as side of vegetables instead of fries, or if they can take off the sauce of the grilled chicken you ordered or maybe if they have brown rice instead of white rice at the sushi restaurant.
5. DRINK water. Before going out to the restaurant, make sure you drink a glass or 2 of water beforehand! This helps to keep you full and can help you to eat less than half of what you normally would if you hadn’t had that water!
6. Make your plate COLORFUL. The more color the better on your plate. More color means choosing foods with much more nutrients. So try to decrease the white and make your plate look like the rainbow!
7. Eat SLOWLY. We are all to blame for the go-go-go lifestyle. I see this A LOT with people when its time to eat, and even I am to blame at times! What is the RUSH!? Make sure to chew your food SLOWLY. It takes nearly 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain “IM FULL”. Eating slowly may surprise yourself by being full before all the food is gone and hey, you avoid that nasty stomachache too!
Written By Danielle Maina, NASM Certified Nutritionist