5 Tips to Help you When Eating Out

Healthy eating
haute cuisine dish served in a restaurant

Eating out can be a real pleasure, but it doesn't mean giving up on healthy eating. Here are some simple tips for making healthy choices while enjoying your meal at a restaurant.

1. Don't Arrive at the Restaurant on an Empty Stomach

It's tempting to go to a restaurant when you're very hungry, but it can lead to impulsive and less healthy choices. Have a small snack before your meal to avoid being famished. This way, you'll be able to make more informed decisions about the dishes you choose.

2. Ask Questions About the Menu

Inquire with your server about the menu options. Try to opt for a balanced meal consisting of 50% vegetables, 25% starches, and 25% sources of protein. Also, ask for details about the methods of preparation for the dishes. Prioritize foods that are baked or grilled rather than breaded, fried, or sauced. Choose lean meats over fatty deli meats.

3. Make Wise Choices

When selecting your meal, avoid set menus or trios, as the portions can be larger than what you would have at home. Prefer ordering à la carte to have better control over your consumption. Start your meal with a vegetable-based appetizer, such as minestrone soup or a colourful salad, to achieve a balanced plate. If your main course already includes starches, avoid snacking on bread while waiting for the meal. If you have a dessert craving, consider sharing it to limit your calorie intake.

4. Watch Out for "Hidden" Calories

Restaurant dishes often have higher calorie content than homemade versions. To reduce your calorie intake, ask for dressings and sauces on the side and use them sparingly. Choose tomato-based sauces over cream-based ones for pasta dishes. Similarly, opt for clear broths instead of cream-based vegetable soups. Be mindful of liquid calories, such as sugary drinks and juices, which don't offer much in terms of nutrition. Prefer water or flavored sparkling water as a lighter alternative.

5. Respect Your Appetite

In a society where we tend to finish our plates, even when we're satiated, it's important to listen to our body's signals of fullness. If you're still hungry at the end of the meal, ask to take the leftovers home. This will help limit food waste while providing you with a delicious meal for the next day.

In conclusion, dining out doesn't necessarily mean compromising on a balanced diet. By following these simple tips, you can make more informed choices while enjoying your meal. Prepare yourself by avoiding arriving famished, ask questions about the menu, and choose dishes prepared in a healthy manner. Make wise choices by ordering à la carte and opting for vegetable-based appetizers. Be aware of "hidden" calories in sauces and beverages, and respect your hunger by taking leftovers with you. With these tips, you can fully enjoy your meals at restaurants while maintaining a balanced and healthy diet. Bon appétit!

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist