Dining out and eating healthy can be a real challenge, especially when healthy options on the menu are few and far between.
You don’t have to stick to exactly what’s on the menu, however. The kitchen can accommodate if you request some changes for how your food is being prepared. It may just take a little longer to make, but otherwise not a big deal.
Here are some menu hacks to consider when dining out to help you turn regular menu options into a much healthier experience.
Stick to Drinking Water
The health benefits of drinking water have been well documented. We all know it’s the best option from the beverage menu, it’s having the willpower to stick to water when dining out that’s the challenge.
A tip here is to order water as soon as you sit at your table and give the drinks menu to the waiter to take away. A couple of benefits to drinking water when dining out that might help sway you; it’s the least expensive item on the menu, and it will take the edge off your hunger before ordering your meal. Add lime or lemon for a fresh, healthy kick.
If You like Starters – Start with a Salad
Some people like starters, some don’t. If you’re on the side of always starting with a starter, make it a salad, and swap the dressing for a little olive oil and vinegar.
Salads provide a wide range of nutrition, such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and makeup part of any well-balanced healthy diet. You can’t go wrong starting with one.
Ask for Your Food to Be Prepared with No Salt and Sauces on the Side
We all need some salt in our diets, but the truth remains—we get more than enough without adding it to our meals. When ordering from the menu, politely ask the waiter to tell the kitchen not to add any salt to your meal. If you have other restrictions or health issues, you can ask them to refrain adding any number of spices to your meal.
In addition to this, if your meal includes a sauce, ask for the sauce to come out in a dish instead of drizzled over your food. Sauces are typically high in fat, sugar, and salt. This way, you can easily enjoy the sauce while controlling how much you have.
Add a Side of Vegetables
Vegetables are a staple of healthy eating. Ask for a side of your favorite veggie with your entree, even if you don’t see it offered on the menu. You can’t beat veg for the wide range of good nutrition, and they’re filling too if you need a little help staving off the dessert munchies.
Substitute Fries for Healthier Options
Fries are a common side offering for menu meals. This is mainly because they’re easy to cook in bulk, and they are of course delicious. But fries contain loads of trans fats, which are bad for a number of reasons.
Get into the habit of substituting French fries for something healthier. Choose extra vegetables, baked or boiled potatoes if you’re craving potatoes, or even sweet potato fries as a treat.
Tell the Waiter You Won’t Be Needing the Wine or Dessert Menu
Removing temptations is the majority of the battle when it comes to dining out. As soon as you sit at your table, tell your server you will not be needing the dessert or wine menu.
Hopefully, you won’t be hungry for dessert after following the other tips already shared. But for those with a sweet tooth, there always seems to be room for dessert so it helps to remove the temptation. Same goes for wine, removing the temptation from sight and mind is a hack to stop yourself from ordering a glass.
Make Your Own “Off Menu” Healthy Meal
If you’re looking through the menu and can’t see any healthy options or a meal that you want, you can make your own meal. For example, you can order a couple of healthy starters, like a salad or mixed fruit. Then order a baked potato and some healthy sides, such as beans or veg.
A lot of restaurants will be happy to make you a personalized meal, and it doesn’t do any harm to ask. So, next time you’re dining out and you can’t see something that fits with your diet plan, ask for what you want, regardless of whether it’s on the menu.