Eating out is fun! Whether it’d be having a meal with friends, family or business partners, the feeling of being able to go out and enjoy good food, well…it’s to die for. No cleaning, no worrying about cooking and how the food will turn out. Unfortunately, there is one very big caveat with all this, especially if you’re trying to eat healthy.
And that caveat is the fact that, as good as it is when you want to eat and live better, it can be harder to go out to eat. It’s easier to eat healthy in the comfort of your home where you’re in complete control of what goes into your meal, but when you’re out and you’re surrounded by tasty (but not necessarily good for you) food, it can be hard not to get weak in the knees and just say, “Eh, I can make it up” or that it is your ‘cheat day’.
You don’t have to be ashamed of it though, we’re only humans. But dining out shouldn’t mean that you need not follow your health goals or that you can’t eat well – in the healthy sense. In fact, here are 5 tips on how you can dine out with your loved ones, be social and not feel guilty about eating bad.
Plan Out How You Eat
Regardless of where you’re going, you should probably have a plan of how much food you want to have that day. There are different approaches to this, and people will tell you that one is better than the other, but at the end of the day it’s really up to you.
If you’re planning on giving yourself a treat and going all out, then the best you should do is eat light meals during the day so that when dinner time rolls around, you can eat a meal that satisfies you, just as long as you go back to make up for it the next day.
Granted, if you don’t want to go all out and want to keep up with the habit you’re forming (which can be grueling), the opposite is also a solution. Instead of eating light so that you can have a heavy dinner, you should eat a good breakfast and a light lunch as this will make it so that you’re not as hungry as you would be otherwise, and be able to make better choices in what you can eat, plus you’ll be full faster.
Remember, you shouldn’t deprive yourself of food just because you have a dinner thing. There are studies that show that the stress of denying yourself of food when you’re hungry will just make you hungrier later. It’s great if you want to wait it out but if your stomach demands food, then you should give it food.
Pick a Good Restaurant and Think Healthy
If it’s up to you to pick where you’re going to eat, then the job might be a little easier. You do have to take some things into consideration though. According to a study done by the Journal of the Academics of Nutrition and Dietics, the types of restaurants that are more fattening or serve bigger serving sizes (which have been increasing gradually over the years) are American, Chinese and Italian restaurants.
So, if you want to eat healthier, it’s recommended that you go to restaurants that specialise in more balanced meal – whether it’d be whole grains, vegetables or lean protein. Restaurants that serve Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and other Asian cuisines are amongst the best you can go with.
Another tip for when you’re picking the restaurant – get a good look at the Menu. Nowadays, most restaurants have websites that feature what they offer. So hey, why not see what they serve and prepare in advance? You could even have fun and look forward to what you’re going to eat if you’re prepared for it.
Leftovers Are Good for the Soul
So, as stated before, portion sizes have grown gradually over the years, just look at how big soda sizes have gotten! That’s a lot of soda! This isn’t all bad though, just as people try to see if they can finish eating all this food, you can turn it to your favour by doing the opposite.
Instead of ordering a small dish that might leave you hungry, you can order something that catches your eye but is too big. This way, anything you can’t eat can be saved and taken home as leftovers, which you could eat for lunch the next day. You’ll essentially be getting two meals for the price of one and if it’s a good wholesome meal, that’s even better!
Go With a Small Group
While it’s fun to eat amongst friends and family, especially big dinners (one of the best things about the holidays!), there have actually been studies that found that the number of people you eat with also influences how much you eat. The more people you’re with, the more you want to eat. It makes sense when you think about it. If you’re seeing everyone eating and having fun (especially if they’re all having different dishes), it can be hard to not want to keep eating or trying a little bit of everyone’s meal to ‘taste’.
Focus on Your Food
If you’re eating out, chances are you’re not just eating. You’re talking, interacting, maybe paying attention to something on TV or the like. The problem with this is that it’s really easy to lose sight of what you’re eating.
A study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the less you focus on your food, the more likely you are to want to eat more. Since you’re not paying attention to what you’re eating you also don’t pay attention to the feeling of fullness, this in turn causes you to overeat.
That’s not the only thing that may cause you to overeat either though. One of the advice usually given to people when it comes to wanting to eat less is to also eat slower. If you eat faster, then your brain can’t process the feeling of fullness until after you’re done with the whole dish. This also happens to be the technique that eating champions implement in order to win competitions. Thus, if you want to ensure that you’re not overeating, it’d be best to start by also watching the speed with which you eat.
Photo Credits: Wellness Hub, More Magazine, Ebbs Ebps Verona, Christina’s Cucina, Food Navigator, EVOKE