For the past 10 years, I’ve been Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan, and Vegetarian etc. So let’s just say I’ve mastered this whole eating out at restaurants deal. Quite honestly, the last thing we want to do is upset the chef or server preparing our food! :-)
Healthy Eating at Restaurants Survival Guide
Don’t go starving.
You are less likely to choose the greasiest, most unhealthy thing on the menu if you don’t go to the restaurant ravenous. Have a small snack consisting of protein about an hour or so before you leave.
Avoid the bread basket or chips and salsa.
It’s easy to mindlessly fill up on the empty carbs before your meal even arrives. The chips and bread can add hundreds of calories to what could have been a low-calorie night out.
Skip the appetizer.
As with the bread basket, it can add hundreds more calories and probably a lot more UNhealthy fats and simple carbs to what could be a healthy night out. If you do pick an appetizer, choose something that isn’t fried or packed with things like full fat cheeses.
Know what your salad contains.
We all think salads are the safest bet but the truth is they are loaded with tons of hidden fats and calories. The dressings alone can be 400-500 calories! Always ask for the dressing, sauce, drizzle on the side-especially because of a lot of dressings are hidden with dairy, sugar and oil. Additionally, remove the cheese and sweetened dried fruit and add in extra protein (eggs, avocados, nuts or veggies) to compensate the removal. Restaurants will always accommodate special diets to the best they can!
Get the facts!
Don’t be afraid to ask the server for the nutrition facts menu. If the restaurant has one, you can make an even more specific choice! This way, you can scope out substitutes for some of the ingredients and/or sides that your meal comes with!
Sides, Splits and Safe Zones
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for things on the side! Dressings, marinades, high- calorie toppings and adders, syrups and other extras can be more easily controlled if you can put them on yourself! Don’t add salt! I can almost GUARANTEE whatever you wind up ordering will likely come loaded with salt. Restaurants are notorious for WAY overdoing the portion sizes. Save half or more of your meal for later! That way you can get two or more meals out of it! You can ask the server to pack half of it up before it even gets to your table. (Or if you have the will-power, eat half and ask for a to-go box after). Also, consider ordering something to split with a friend, family member or significant other! That way you don’t have to worry about carry the leftovers home and you can both enjoy a lighter dinner!
Did you say Dessert?
Lastly, skip dessert. You’ll be glad you did. Some single slices of cheesecake and other goodies can pack more than 1,000 calories!!!
Remember that many people with severe food allergies also must ask the server to have the food prepared sans their allergen, so don’t be shy about speaking up! If it’s a first date or something, I might understand the hesitation... but even still... don’t be afraid to ask nicely for what you want! =)
YOU CAN ALWAYS feel free to….
• Ask to speak with the chef, and ask where the restaurant buys its produce from.
• Ask the server if the chef uses any organic or grass-fed meats.
. Ask the server to see which dish is the healthiest. He's hopefully seen them and can give a good suggestion.