Eating healthy when eating out

While the best way to guarantee you’re eating good, healthy meals is to make your food yourself, even seasoned home chefs need a little time off here and there.
At such times ordering in or getting a meal out with friends or family is the perfect solution. 
While eating out or ordering in can be fun and tasty, its quiet possible to overeat and more often make not so great food choices. 
Read on for a few tips on how to eat healthy when ordering in or eating out. 
These will help you stick to your health goals without having to give up delicious food. 

Check the menu
Most popular restaurants now post their menus online. Take a quick peek at what they have to offer before you decide which restaurant is right for tonight’s meal. This has two benefits: You can see if they have any healthy options and then pre-plan your meal to avoid temptation. And if they have a lot of fattening, fried foods? Just move on to the next restaurant​.

A small healthy snack before you go
If you’re hungry when you arrive at a restaurant, you may end up eating too much. 
One way to prevent this is to eat a healthy snack before you get there.
A low-calorie, high-protein snack like yogurt or some boiled egg whites could make you feel full and help prevent overeating.

Drink water before and during your meal
Water is a fantastic choice for drinking before and with a meal, especially if you drink it instead of sugar-sweetened drinks. 
Replacing sugar-sweetened drinks with water can help reduce your intake of calories and added sugar.
One study showed that people on a diet who drank 500 ml of water half an hour before a meal ate fewer calories and lost 44% more weight than those who didn’t.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19661958/ 

Check out the method of preparation
The way food is cooked can have a significant impact on the amount of calories it contains.
Look for food that has been steamed, grilled or tandoor cooked. In general, these cooking methods equate to less fat and therefore fewer calories.
Foods that are described on the menu as pan-fried, fried, crispy, crunchy or sautéed will usually contain more fat and more calories.

Slow down and chew thoroughly
Chewing your food thoroughly and eating slower could help you eat less. It can also make you feel full more quickly.
When you’re eating, try counting a minimum number of chews per mouthful to stop yourself from eating too quickly.
Putting your utensils down between mouthfuls is also a good way to slow down and give your satiety signals some time to kick in.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24215801/ 

Avoid buffets
People are generally bad at estimating portion size.
So, when you are faced with an unlimited supply of food at a buffet, eating the right amount can be challenging.
If you’re stuck with a buffet as your only choice, using a smaller plate might help you eat less. 
Another effective trick is to use a normal-sized plate and fill half of it with salad or vegetables. 
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20147467/ 

Choose wisely
When ordering, opt for lean dishes that feature chicken, seafood, low fat paneer or dishes that are steamed or roasted rather than fried.
Pick a clear soup over a cream-based soup. 
A raita is a great accompaniment, but a vegetable raita will be a wiser choice compared to a boondi raita. 
Swap a fried kachori or may be a steamed dhokla and a butter naan for a tandoori roti.

Skip the pre dinner nibble basket
Some restaurants offer a nibble basket of chips or papads as a customer waits for their meal. 
If you turn up to a restaurant hungry, it’s easy to overeat these nibbles and wreck your appetite.
If you’re easily tempted, send them back.

Go for tomato-based gravy, rather than cream based
Choose tomato-based sauces over creamy or cashew -based ones to help cut the calories and fat from your meal.
A 100-gram serving of cream-based gravy has 147 calories and 10.6 grams of total fat, while a cup of tomato-based gravy has only the small amount of 42 calories and 1.2 grams of total fat. Needless to state, if you are looking for a healthy and lighter sauce, red is your best option.

Share with Someone Else (or take home ½ your meal)
A study of people who successfully lost weight and kept it off showed that they often shared food or ordered half a portion when eating out.
It’s a simple way to cut back on calories and prevent overeating.
If you have nobody to share with, you can ask the waiter to wrap up half your meal for you to take home.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2248784/ 

Order a soup or salad to start
Having a soup or a salad before your main course can stop you from eating too much. 
Studies looking at the effects of eating soup before a meal have shown that it can reduce your total calorie intake by 20%. 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2128765/ 

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Rithika Rajgopal

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