It is no secret that I love to go out to eat and to make it even worse, my husband also loves to go out to eat. We are definitely not ying-yang when it comes to restaurants. Because of our dear love of food, I have tried just about every single restaurant hack to eat healthy and there are definitely tricks of eating healthy at a restaurant that I have learned along the way!. Some work better than others, but everyone will find a couple tricks that work best for them.
Eating Healthy Tricks
If you only take one tips away, take this one! Be honest and know what you can and will sacrifice.
I LOVE chips and salsa and I love bread baskets. I do not, can not, will not, turn those down. It’s just not going to ever happen in this lifetime. When I go to those kind of restaurants I will eat those pre meal goodies.
That’s the thing though, I have learned this about myself. So, when I can’t spend the calories, I just don’t go to those restaurants. Although Mexican food is my absolute favorite, I don’t often go out to eat at Mexican restaurants because I don’t eat healthy. If I want something, I have to make it at home or go for a special occasion and not worry about my caloric intake.
Look at the restaurants website, Facebook page, or yelp for a menu ahead of time. Try to find 2-3 options that will not kill you in calories. It’s important to always have more than one option for a couple of reasons
Menu’s change so the item you want might not be there
What you feel like eating once you arrive could change, so knowing a couple of options will help you stick to your plan
Avoid Certain Words
- Pan fried
- Cream based sauce
- Tomato based sauce
- Broth based
Ask for Different Sides
I do this ALL time at breakfast. I don’t like hash browns and country potatoes are meh. I’d MUCH rather save my macros for something I really want. So, for breakfasts, I usually ask for fruit instead. Sometimes there’s an upcharge, sometimes there isn’t. It’s always worth it to ask though.
Start with a green salad
Eating a salad is an excellent way to get in some fiber and vegetables. Watch out for cheese, bacon, deli meat, croutons which all add a lot of fat and sodium to a potentially healthy dish.
Get Dressings on the Side
You will more often than not end up using less dressing than the kitchen will to dress your salad. I actually use the fork in the dressing method – dip your fork in the dressing, then get some salad on your fork. I learned this in Weight Watcher’s, and still do it over a decade later.
Especially when out to eat with friends, we want to graze as we socialize, so be deliberate and slow when eating. Put your fork down between bites. Sip on your water, with a goal of asking for refills several times while you are out to eat.
There are several ways to approach this idea. One, you can split an entrée with another person and eat and save calories on portion control. Two, my husband and I often do this – we will order two items, one healthy, one not so healthy and split them. It’s still moderation, but not complete elimination and I don’t feel deprived.
Have Appetizers Instead
There are a lot of restaurants that offer ‘small bites’ which are even better than appetizers. I often get two of these and call it a meal. They are smaller than normal appetizers and sometimes are very healthy options! At one restaurant, I get the watermelon and feta salad along with something higher in protein. If you do order off the traditional appetizer menu, there are a LOT of fried options so be careful and choose wisely.
You’ll save money and calories by keeping to water out to eat. It’s also a GREAT way to help with the extra sodium you’ll be taking in during your meal out since restaurants always use way more salt than you would at home.
Yep, I’m putting this again because I think it’s that important. If you know that you are going to have an alcoholic drink every time you go out to eat, then don’t go or choose grilled fish, or chicken or a salad (watch those toppings) with a light dressing.
If you MUST have dessert, split with a friend. My husband and I almost always share a dessert, but often times, we are too full anyway and end up not getting one.
Be aware of what you can turn away and what you can’t and try to avoid those areas of weakness (looking at your tortilla chips). I still lost weight while going out to eat. It’s about compromise and making well informed, planned choices.