Eating healthy and dining out can absolutely go hand in hand!
I guess you could say I was forced to learn the tricks of the trade when it came to eating healthy while dining out. Forced? For lack of a better word, yes. My husband is in the professional baseball industry, which means for eight months out of the year, we’re on the road, traveling, watching baseball and finding food in each new city we visit along the way.
The tips below are simple and easy to remember. I even provided some options at my favorite St. Louis restaurants. But before we get into those, I have to share the most important lesson I learned in my journey to healthy living, which is this: The greatest results come from living a healthy lifestyle both mentally and physically; it beats eating the perfect diet every time.
The greatest results come from living a healthy lifestyle both mentally and physically; it beats eating the perfect diet every time.
Dining out is such a treat; laughing, telling stories with the people you love— those are some of the sweetest gifts of life. This is all about merging clean eating while doing the things you love. Bon appétit, friends.
5 Tips for Eating Healthy While Dining Out
1. Do your research. If you get the opportunity to choose the restaurant, pick places that use descriptive words like farm-to-table, organic, local, seasonal, or homemade. Most of the time, these places will have lots of clean, healthy options! If the choice isn’t in your control, look up the menu beforehand and put together a game plan. This will prevent you from being blind-sighted, and you could even plan to have a mini snack beforehand, just in case nothing looks nutritious.
2. Hot lemon water! I order this every time I eat out. In fact, I try to make sure it’s the first thing I finish before I dive into anything else. Lemon water aids in digestion and hydrates the body, two great things before a big meal! I also try to avoid super cold beverages and foods, as they can damage the stomach and spleen, resulting in poor absorption and digestion. I’m the queen of asking for “water with no ice, please.”
3. Keywords to use when ordering.
- Substitute: “Can I substitute the parmesan risotto for an extra portion of the vegetable in the dish?”
- Dry: “Can I have my eggs over medium and dry?” Meaning they won’t use any oil in preparation.
- Lettuce bun: Self-explanatory, but a lot of people forget this sneaky substitute!
- On the side: If you are unsure of any dressings or sauces, ask for them on the side. Or, ask for olive oil and a few lemon wedges instead of dressing. It’s delicious and really all you need for a dressing!
- Steamed: If you have an allergy to dairy or are unsure of the oil quality, ask for your veggies to be steamed.
- “Please,” “Thank you.” These are incredibly important, especially if you are special ordering. I have worked in the restaurant industry, and special ordering can be a pain for the kitchen. I was always happy to do it for my customers, as I’m also a special-order customer, but adding a smile and a big ole “thanks so much” makes all the difference.
4. Communicate. If needed, explain to the group why you are ordering specifically. Don’t be afraid to communicate— maybe they will jump on board with you! If you are attending a house party, simply ask the hostess what you can bring and what she has on the menu. That way, you can be prepared for what she’s serving, and you can bring your own healthy dish. Win, win!
5. Don’t stress! If there aren’t any healthy options, don’t let it stress you out. One unpleasant meal isn’t going to ruin your efforts or damage your insides permanently.
I usually have an emergency food stash in my baby bag or car for when this situation arises. I have a very sensitive digestive system, so I have to be careful when eating at these types of restaurants. Most of the time, I can manage, but just in case, I’ll bring my snack to the restaurant and order something small.
I hope this helps you see that it is possible to socialize while maintaining a healthy lifestyle! People, laughter, conversation … those are incredibly important factors in our overall health. It’s not just about eating the perfect diet. Don’t forget that! Unfortunately, I forgot that at one point, and I missed out on a lot of fun memories. So, loosen the reigns, enjoy that glass of wine, get creative with your ordering and enjoy your time out!