Everyone enjoys a meal out every now and then right? But what if you’re on a health kick? Being on a ‘healthy eating/clean eating’ plan doesn’t have to stop you enjoying your meals out, you just have to make smart choices.

It can be hard with such a huge amount of choice on where to eat out and it can be difficult to control your options (e.g. a friend has organised a dinner and it’s not somewhere you would’ve chosen). And to make things that little bit harder, the ingredients aren’t listed on the menu.

These days, most restaurants have a website which includes their menu. If you want to be prepared jump online and check it out. Or if you are the one who is choosing the restaurant, make sure you’re choosing a healthy one!

One of the main issues with eating out is portion size – whether that be what you have been served up, or maybe you decide to have 3 courses, rather than 2!

Here are some tips to help making eating out healthy:

Some general guidelines:

  • Swap chips for salad or vegetables
  • Skip the bread basket
  • Ask for dressing on the side
  • Don’t order anything that is deep fried! If you really want the item anyway you can always ask them if it’s possible to pan fry or grill instead
  • Don’t be shy to ask questions about a meal or take/swap something over. Most places are happy to help.
  • If you are going to have 3 courses – share an entree & desert with someone, or have 2 entrees – one for entree and one for main
  • You don’t have to eat everything on your plate. Remember to eat slowly and chew your food. When you are full, stop!
  • It’s not just what you eat that you have to be mindful of, it’s also what you drink when you are out! If you are going to have a glass of wine, enjoy it with a meal. Make sure you drink lots of water throughout the night as well. Moderation is key!

Another thing to remember is if you are only eating out 1-2 times  a week, you could use those outings as your ‘treat meals’. I recommend you be ‘good’ 80/90% of the time. You do need to enjoy a few treats every now and then, so you know that you aren’t missing out on anything. Just plan your ‘treat’ meals, look forward to them!

Remember to listen to your body.

For example, sometimes I think mmmm, I might have a glass of wine on Friday night to reward myself for getting through the week. Friday comes and I don’t actually feel like a glass of wine! So guess what, I don’t have it! The same goes with having desert, having some chocolate or whatever your treat of choice is. Just think about moderation and don’t go overboard.  Be conscious of your portions and enjoy your treat.

Here are a few of the popular eating out cuisines and how to chose some healthier options when there:

THAI

Thai food is great for fresh spices and amazing flavours (it’s one of my favourites!).

Stay away from Try:
Prawn crackers Grilled calamari
Roti bread Tom Yum Soup or a variation
Rice (jasmine, fried etc) Rice noodles
Curry’s – only because you can’t be sure of what   is actually in it. If you are making it at home, you know what is going into   it! Stir fry’s or anything sautéed
Salads
Pad Thai’s can be hit and miss, again depending   on the ingredients used and the oil it is cooked in.

 INDIAN

Indian has its good and bad points – as most cuisines do. Indians tend to cook with a lot of butter and have lots of rice and breads but the spices and flavours can be amazing! If you stick to lean proteins, legumes, and even a bit of coconut milk, you will be ok!

Stay away from Try:
Anything fried! Papadums, samosa’s etc Non creamy curry’s – coconut milk is ok.
Fried or stuffed breads Tandoori chicken – because its cooked in an oven   and covered in spices.
Rice Kebab’s are usually ok, just be aware of the   sauces
Cream based curries Daal is ok as well

 ITALIAN

Stay away from Try:
Pizza Unless they offer a gluten free base
Pasta Most Italian places these days offer gluten free   pasta
Risotto – less the cheese
Grilled calamari or fish etc
Anything fried
Creamy sauces Tomato/veggie based sauces (if you have gluten   free pasta)
Creamy mains – parma’s etc

CHINESE

Chinese food tends to be high in sodium (salt) and fat and there are usually a lot of fried options! However, if you choose right, you will be OK.

Stay away from Try:
Fried options – some are fried before being added   to sauces Steamed dishes
Thick, heavy sauces San choy bow – sauce on side
White rice Brown rice – only have a small portion though.
Dumplings Stir Fry’s
Fried rice

 JAPANESE

Japanese is usually a healthy option when eating out. It is generally lower in fat, just be mindful of salt content (esp with soy sauce!) Tseng explains, “Japanese cuisine is generally lighter and lower in fat content. However, consumers must keep in mind that it may be higher in sodium. Like many Asian cuisines, Japanese cuisine uses soy sauce in addition to salt to flavor the food.”  Tseng suggests using half of your normal intake of soy sauce if low-sodium soy sauce isn’t available. Look for high-nutrient menu items such as edamamemiso soup, or soba (buckwheat) noodles.

 Stay away from Try:
Sushi – have a bit, but not too much because of   the rice! Edamame
Anything deep fried – including tempura & ice   cream! Miso Soup
Rice Soba noodles
Sashimi
Tepanyaki
Grilled dishes
Stir Fry dishes

 MIXED CUISINE RESTAURANT/CAFE’S

There are lots of restaurants/cafes these days that have a bit of everything. These are usually a great option when dining out to

Stay away from Try:
Burgers Have a burger without the bun
Chips Sweet potato chips
Anything deep fried Salads
Risotto – less the cheese
Grilled options
Pan fried options

 BREAKFAST

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and I love going out for breakfast/brunch on a weekend. It is usually really easy to eat a healthy breakfast when eating out (just watch those portions!):

Stay away from Try:
The Big breakfast Take off the deep fried things, the sausages etc   and you would be ok!
Pancakes with ice cream and maple syrup Sour dough with poached eggs and smoked salmon
French toast Omelette (no cheese), add spinach, tomato, mushrooms   etc
Muesli – will most likely be full of sugar Veggie breakfast – eggs, sourdough, spinach, avo,   tomato, mushrooms
Any other bread but sour dough

So there are lots of options to choose from when eating out, make smart, healthy choices and enjoy yourself.

What is your favourite cuisine? How do you stick to a healthy eating plan when you’re out and about?

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About The Author

Amanda Ferguson

Amanda Ferguson is a mum, personal trainer & creator of Fit & Fab Mummy Bootcamp – an online bootcamp & eBook series, especially designed for mums. Amanda is on her own journey to achieve her dream life – one that empowers women to lose their baby weight, boost their confidence and be the fittest, healthiest and most energetic mums they can be. Amanda is motivated by a challenge and inspired by the hundreds of women she has helped reach their dream...will you be next? www.amandaferguson.com.au

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