How to Dine Out ... and Stay Healthy

Photo by Andreas Krappweis
Dining out is an integral part of a busy person's schedule. Between work, errands, and raising a
family, it's an easy way to make life easier while giving yourself a little 'treat.'

That said, it's well-known that dining out isn't always the most healthy or affordable option. Many people turn to cheap takeout like pizza or even fast food restaurants to ease the burden on their wallets, but those kinds of places are usually the least healthy to eat.

So what's a health-conscious person to do?

There's no perfect answer, but here are four easy steps I take to make sure I can enjoy a night out without sacrificing my healthy eating:
  1. Refuse the bread basket. When you're hungry and it's in front of you, it's impossible to resist. It's much easier to tell your server no, and have them take it away. Remember: refined carbohydrates like those found in bread spike your blood sugar and signal your body to store fat! (Not to mention the problems caused by gluten sensitivities). Just say no!
  2. Always start with a healthy salad. Make sure you get your vegetables!!! This is so crucial. Leafy greens are excellent, but the other night while I was out, I enjoyed a raw shaved beet salad that was divine, too. If there is a seasonal option, go for it. But even if it's just the standard iceberg and tomato salad that the local pizza joint offers, GO WITH IT. It will fill you up with healthy complex carbohydrates and lots of good-for-you nutrients. Sure, cost-wise it may seem counter-intuitive, but think about it this way: you'll eat less after you've finished a salad. For example, after my beet dish, I was happy to finish my meal with just another appetizer. So my dinner bill was actually about the same as if I had only ordered an entree.
  3. Order a side dish of vegetables. Yet another great and yummy way to get in your greens or a seasonal veggie. And have you noticed how delicious they always sound? We had a brussels sprout side dish the other night that was amazing. What if your takeout place doesn't offer side dishes? You can always try adding veggies to your order - for example, pizza topped with mushrooms, olives, peppers, onions and tomatoes.
  4. Choose fish. Fish is usually the healthiest option on a menu - unless it's a fried fish-wich or fish & chips, that is. If you don't like fish (like me!), head for grilled chicken or pork. Those are lean options that are guaranteed to be hormone-free.
Got other ideas on how to eat healthily while you're dining out? Leave a comment on the Facebook page to share your best tips!

Happy holidays!