Eating out the healthy way

Some general ideas for healthier options when eating out at restaurants…

Look for steamed, baked or grilled fish dishes, stews, paella and steamed mussels from the menu can be a good choice, too. Add a healthy side salad or a couple of servings of steamed vegetables, and ask your waiter if sauces and dressings can be served on the side, or just replace them with a healthier option.

Vegetable Side Dishes
Steamed veg will provide all the nutrients – and taste – without any of the nasty extras. Ask for side dishes to be served without oil or butter, and request any salad dressing on the side so that you can decide how much, if any, to add.

Skipping Lunch
I’ve saved myself all day for a blow-out meal, arriving at a restaurant really hungry, wanting everything on the menu, and this has usually been a big mistake! You’re likely to over-order, opting for whatever starter and main course catches your eye, and will then mindlessly pick at the bread rolls and olives until the main arrives. Don’t skip lunch, even if you’re going out to dinner. Have a healthy soup or a salad for lunch will help you make good choices at the restaurant.

It’s all too easy to attack the bread basket while waiting for your meal. The result? More calories consumed overall. Passing on the white bread at the start will allow you to enjoy the rest of your meal. Simply ask the waiter to remove the bread basket.

Many salads in restaurants are deceptively calory. Garden, bean or Greek salads are versatile options that can be ordered as side dishes, or modified to form a rounded main meal. While the Feta cheese in a Greek salad will provide a relatively high amount of fat and salt, it’s a good source of protein, which will help to fill you up. Don’t be afraid to ask for additions like grilled chicken or prawns to an otherwise low-protein green salad either – this will add flavour and leave you more satisfied. Of course, there’s no point selecting healthy base ingredients only to ruin it with a poor choice of dressing. Vinegar and citrus-based dressings are better options than creamy or oily ones.

There are many empty calories in alcohol, so why not choose to be the designated driver and save those calories? If you want a couple of drinks then have a spritzer. It will last longer and you get the taste of a drink whilst still being mindful about how much you have had.

It’s all too easy to hit a restaurant with good intentions and then get side tracked with all the lovely options. Go online before you get to the restaurant, plan your meal choice, and stick to it!

If you fancy something sweet at the end of the meal, why not share with a friend? Many restaurants do a coffee with a small dessert, and if you have an Americano then you can have something sweet without over-indulging too much.