I went through a big shift in my life and health years ago. I started to realize that change became so much easier when I focused on what to add rather than what to take away. After all, adding in a positive is almost always easier than eliminating a negative. Rather than focusing on rules that told me what not to do, I began coming up with my own rules and guidelines that focused on the TO dos instead. I started applying this across my life from work to diet and lifestyle and suddenly things just began to flow.
When sitting down to create a “Dining Out Guide”, this principle immediately came to mind. As a holistic nutritionist, I could easily write a novel about all the junk to avoid, but I don’t think it would do you much good. Instead, I wanted to come up with a list of simple tips that with enable you to own your health and make better decisions. I want you to know that eating out can be healthy — You just need to know what to look for and what to avoid when you sit down to the table.
By following these tips, you can be confident that you are making the healthiest choices available without giving up your favorite restaurant!
- Eat a small snack before you go out to eat: A handful of nuts, ¼ of an avocado with sea salt, a tablespoon of almond butter are all great options. Also, putting a couple teaspoons of chia seeds in 8 ozs. water will properly hydrate you and cut your appetite. Not arriving to your destination in a state of starvation will help you choose with a clear head.
- Pass on the bread basket: If everyone at your table is in agreement on this, the best way to resist it is to not have it in front of you. The waiter may be able to bring you some olives or cut up veggies instead.
- Start with a salad: A lot of appetizers are fried or breaded, so sticking with a salad is a great way to have an appetizer course, but a much healthier one. For dressing, always ask for olive oil and vinegar or oil, lemon juice and sea salt.
- Go for the protein and vegetables: Grilled, roasted or broiled fish chicken tofu or lean meat along with sautéed veggies are a safe bet. Ask if they can use olive oil and drizzle lemon on top. If you don’t see any dishes prepared this simply on the menu, just ask. It’s likely that they will be able to make it for you. Avoid sauces and dips, because they are laden with hidden sugars, poor oils, gluten and dairy. Skip the starches and ask for double vegetables.
- Know before you go: If possible, check out the menu before you go so that you can decide in advance what you’d like to eat. This way it won’t be any trouble at all when you get to the restaurant because you will already have your plan in place. Many restaurants will note certain dietary restrictions such as gluten and dairy free on their menu. Additionally, some restaurants have a separate gluten free menu that they will provide upon request.
- Suggest a healthy restaurant: Are you able to choose the restaurant? If so, Clean Plates is a great restaurant guide, and picking your spot ensures you will have no trouble finding healthier eating choices.
- Follow “hari hachi bu.” Do as the Okinawan Japanese do and stop eating when you are 80% full. Instead of eating until you are FULL, eat until you are NO LONGER HUNGRY!
- Remember fruit is nature’s candy: Usually fresh fruit – especially berries that have a low glycemic load – is the best way to satisfy your sweet tooth. But, if you’d like to indulge a bit, share dessert with others at the table. You can satisfy your palate with a few bites and keep your body happy by not overdoing it. Another trick I like is BYO dessert! Stick a square or two of dark chocolate in your bag and have that instead of any dessert at the restaurant.
If you want a more in depth look into what to look for and what to avoid, you must check out the Food Babe’s Guide: FoodBabeDiningOutGuide.