How to make healthier choices at restaurants
Nowadays, eating healthy is a common goal and is much more accessible to achieve when eating out at restaurants.
Courtney Cornwall, Outrun Gravity
Once upon a time, eating out at a restaurant automatically meant that your “cheat meal” for the week has been used up.
Nowadays, eating healthy is a common goal and is much more accessible to achieve when eating out at restaurants. Wherever you go out to eat, there will always be options to transform a meal into something more nutrient-dense and healthful if you keep an open mind and get creative with your options.
Here are some of our favorite healthy hacks for nutritious eating at restaurants:
– Choose your restaurant wisely
When you are choosing which restaurant to eat at, you have more flexibility in your choices than you may think. If you’re searching for a healthy option, select a restaurant renowned for the farm-to-table freshness of its menu. If a restaurant is known for fresh foods made from scratch, it is likely they’ll be more willing to accommodate dietary preferences and healthy choices due to the flexibility of creating meals to order.
– Avoid restaurants that only serve pre-made food
Some restaurants begin preparing their food once a patron has placed an order, while others prepare all of their food that morning and keep them under a heat lamp until ordered. Restaurants that only serve pre-made food will limit your options for making your meal healthier because you lack the freedom to adjust or substitute ingredients. For this reason, it’s best to avoid these establishments if trying to make healthier choices at restaurants.
– Ask for no salt or less salt on your meal
Excess sodium is one of the biggest downfalls of the American diet, so requesting no salt or less salt on your meal automatically makes your food healthier. Here’s a secret: the less salt you eat, the less you will crave it in your food. Even though it may taste bland now, your body will thank you in the long run.
– Choose pan-prepared food or steamed food over fried food
When food is fried in oil, excess fat, salt, and calories seep into the food, making it greasy and less nutrient-dense. Instead of eating fried food, choosing another method of preparation ensures you are getting the maximum nutritional value from your meal.
– Substitute your side of fries for veggies
Although French fries have become a staple side platter for most meals when eating out, choosing the seasonal vegetable will always be a more nutritious option when eating out at a restaurant. This allows you to eat more vitamins and nutrients while avoiding excess carbs and salt.
– Drink a mocktail instead of a cocktail
Everyone forgets how high-calorie alcoholic beverages can be. Instead of getting buzzed at lunch, try a mocktail filled with superfood ingredients such as turmeric and ginger that offer anti-inflammatory properties. You can still fit in with the crowd while advocating for your health.
– Explore plant-based options on the menu
Plant-based foods are often great options for a healthy meal because they are, well, made from plants! Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals required for optimal human health. Eating a plant-based meal is an excellent opportunity to get a variety of nutrients all in one meal.
– Connect with your server
At the end of the day, your server will know what your best, healthy options are. Take the time to connect with your server to ask about substitution options, or how you can lower butter, sodium, and calories. You may discover your new favorite healthy hack!
You don’t have to skip a meal at a restaurant if you’re trying to stick to a healthy diet. Instead, you can get creative as you choose where to eat and navigate the menu options, challenging yourself to find the most nutritious and delicious options available. For more tips for integrating a healthy diet into your routine, check out Outrun Gravity for more guides or sign up for a FREE consult with one of our expert nutrition coaches.