5 Tips for Navigating Restaurant Dining
I often get asked about dining out. "How often do you go to restaurants?" "What do you order?" "Do you track your food?" "How do you stay on track?" "How do you log your foods?" Are just some of the questions I receive often.
Personally, while I don't dine out all that often, I do enjoy to have the occasional meal away from home. When I do so, I usually try to stay somewhat on track depending on what my current health goals are, current nutrition plan or the company that I am with. For example, if I'm going out to dinner with my family on a normal night, I'll typically stay on track and track my meal. If I'm going out with friends for a girls night out or for a special event, I won't track but will be mindful of my choices.
Here's a few of my personal tips for navigating restaurant dining:
Suggest the restaurant - If you have the option to choose the restaurant, do it! Choose somewhere you know you can order something healthy or know the nutritional value of the meal.
Plan ahead - Whether you choose the restaurant or not, it's always smart to plan ahead! Look up the menu online (if not on their website, try yelp), see if they offer macronutrient counts, if they allow substitutions or modifications and if there is even an option you'd like. If not, kindly suggest somewhere else or maybe think about eating something ahead of time and then getting something small at the restaurant.
Ask for substitutions or modifications - you are paying for a service so you should be happy with what you get! Don't be afraid to ask for a substitution or modification! Especially these days with all the allergies, most places will happily make any changes you request.
ask for a separate plate
Be mindful - Make choices that you will feel happy about. What's going to make you feel good after you're done, hours later, and the next day? If you know that ordering a hamburger with fries will put you way over your carb grams for the day, how will you feel about that? Successful? Or will you feel guilty and disappointed for going over? If you know that ordering ice cream will make your stomach feel upset later, maybe choose to skip it? Be mindful of your choices and the effects they will have on you now and later.
Balance is key - you don't have to say no to everything! If you want to have some chips and salsa, have them! BUT maybe ask for a small plate when the basket of chips is brought to the table and count out a full serving. If you want to have a glass of wine, have it! Then maybe you choose to skip the dessert. Again, be mindful and make choices that will make you happy and make your body happy by balancing out those choices. It's not all or nothing one way or the other. Healthy is about balancing out things you enjoy, with things that make you feel good. If ice cream makes you feel good, great! Have it! But maybe balance it out with a healthy salad with chicken :-)
Restaurant dining shouldn't be stressful and it shouldn't be avoided completely if it's something you enjoy. Regardless if you're working on health goals or not, it is a great idea to check in with some of these tips in order to have the most positive and successful dining out experience.