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Staying Healthy While Eating Out

Staying Healthy While Eating Out
Nagina Abdullah

Eating out is often a time to relax, which can often translate into the food we order. As our dining companions order unhealthy family-style appetizers or pass around tempting desserts, it’s very easy to overeat, consume heavy foods, and drink empty calories. As our pants start to tighten around an expanding stomach, many of us may curse ourselves for not trying harder to control our appetite. We often leave the restaurant feeling overly full, tired and guilty.

For many of us professional women, eating out is frequent and is a necessity of our careers. It is possible to have a great time, have food you enjoy, stay healthy and even lose weight while eating out. Below are 3 tips to use on your next group dining experience.

Yes – Snack on Appetizers!

In most restaurants, a delicious bread bowl or chips and salsa are placed in the middle of the table, or someone unfailingly orders a fried calamari appetizer or the equivalent. It is easy to reach for a few pieces of calamari or bread with olive oil or butter, and more than a few when the food takes long to come.

We DO need something to snack on while we’re waiting for food – but bread and fried appetizers fill us up with empty calories. Since it is almost impossible to control our hands when the bread bowl is right in front of us, order a healthy appetizer immediately to avoid the temptation of goodies on the table – a salad, tuna tartare, or hummus with veggies will keep your hands busy.

Sauce on the Side & Grilled Please

Recently, I was traveling on a consulting assignment and my team of 20 took me out to dinner at a seafood place on the Boston Harbor to celebrate my birthday. A colleague of mine and I ordered the same thing – a beautiful lemon sole fish, but I requested my sauce on the side. When the meal came, her fish was smothered in a buttery, rich, extremely heavy lemon sauce. She ended up sharing my dish, which was light, flaky and tasty, and where we were able to control the amount of sauce.

Many times healthy options are covered in high amounts of oil, butter and calories. Look for terms such as grilled, baked, or steamed, instead of fried or sautéed, and always ask for the sauce on the side so you can control the quantity. If it’s not on the menu, ask!

Lighten up your drinks

Many of us (especially myself) look forward to loosening up with a drink or two after a long day. However, tremendous amounts of sugar and calories are often hidden in the drinks we order when we’re out to dinner, including many cocktails, margaritas and juices. For healthier options, unsweetened iced tea and water are excellent dinner beverages, and if you’re in the mood for a stronger drink, a red wine, vodka or gin and club soda with lemon are lower-sugar options.

It feels great to have had an enjoyable dining experience with others and walk out feeling light and GUILT-FREE. It is very possible to do by implementing these tips at your next dinner out with colleagues or friends.

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