Hitting the town for some noms or ordering a takeaway can be a bit of a nightmare when you’re trying to stay in shape! Often it can be very difficult to find healthy foods at restaurants. That’s why we have cheat nights, right? (Well, one of the reasons!)
It’s important to remember, eating whatever the hell you want every now and then won’t hurt your progress. As you probably know, I’m very much against dieting and recommend a balanced approach to eating to stay healthy, which of course sometimes includes taking an ‘eat, drink, and be merry’ approach to your nights out!
So here’s my favourite tips and tricks to stick to your eating plan but still enjoy going out with friends to dinner… Even when it’s not your cheat night!
- In order to make sure that you don’t go overboard when you get to restaurants, try drinking a full glass of water before you go. This way you won’t feel as hungry and will not be as tempted to order everything on the menu.
- When eating at full-service restaurants, look for meat that is grilled instead of fried. You will get a lot less fat and the food will still taste delicious.
- When ordering a salad, ask for a few slices of lemon and bring a Ziploc bag of your favourite herbs from home and mix the lemon juice and herbs together in your Ziploc bag to use on your salad instead of high calorie salad dressing.
- Most restaurants will dish up a portion size about 40% bigger than you need. So if you are going out with a friend, see if the restaurant will allow you to share a plate. Some restaurants will just bring you an extra plate; others may charge you a nominal fee for splitting the meal. By splitting the meal with a friend, you can have pretty much whatever you want without being tempted to overindulge since you only have half a plate.
- Check around with different restaurants and see if they have low-calorie options on their menus. A lot of restaurants (particularly chains) these days even have the menu on their website to make this easy for you.
- Always make sure to avoid any meals that come with heavy sauces since most of them are made with loads of fat. Opt for tomato sauces with veggies instead of cream sauces. If you really want to have a meal with the cream sauce, have them put it on the side and then only lightly dip your food in it so that you won’t eat as much.
- Remember also that, despite what your mum told you about people starving in the third world, you do not have to clean your plate! If you order a full meal, stop at one third to half and ask for a doggie bag to take the rest home. Not only will you not eat too many calories, but also you get the added benefit that you now have a quick and easy meal that you can microwave for lunch the next day.
It is possible to enjoy a good meal at a restaurant and still stick to your plan, even when it’s not your cheat day! Just be sensible about it and have fun visiting with friends and family to keep your mind off over eating.