It’s no secret that restaurant food isn’t always the healthiest food. But there’s no sense in skipping lunch with coworkers, a fun social event or a romantic dinner out to maintain your healthy diet. Just plan ahead and make use of these clever workarounds.
Beware of salads
Yep, you read that correctly. A salad doesn’t guarantee a healthy option. Some have creamy dressings or unnecessary extras like crispy wontons or tortilla strips. Modify your salad by asking for vinaigrette or dressing on the side, and skip the fried extras entirely.
Pack it up
Set aside half of your entree for tomorrow’s lunch. Some restaurants may even be willing to do this for you before it arrives on your plate, saving you from exercising your willpower.
Do your research
Many restaurants post menus and even nutritional facts online. Take a few minutes to peruse the options first, and then make your selection. Generally, standard rules apply: deep-fried is a no-no, and veggie-based options are usually best. Also consider sodium levels, which can skyrocket in certain dishes, like stir-fries.
Have a glass of water
Are you really as hungry as you think? You could be thirsty. Have a tall glass of water before your meal—you may be less likely to eat as much or feel as hungry.
Focus on mindful eating
Take smaller bites, chew for longer and listen to the conversations around you. Focus on the smells, presentation and flavor of your food and take the time to truly savor your meal. If you don’t rush, you’ll be less likely to overeat and feel stuffed afterward.
Look for buzzwords
Foods that have been “steamed,” “grilled” or “baked” are generally better options than “fried,” “crispy” or “creamy.”
Ask questions and modify
Don’t be afraid to ask how a dish is prepared and make modifications accordingly. For example, try opting for grilled rather than deep-fried chicken on a salad.
If it’s a special occasion, choose a drink or dessert (to share)—but not both. And remember: only eat until you’re full. Mowing down on every morsel is not necessary, no matter what your grandmother told you about licking your plate clean before leaving the table!