Dining out with confidence - WellStart Health

Food & Nutrition

Dining out with confidence

We’ve all been there – you are feeling healthy and in control of your choices, and then, du nuh du nuh du nuh (to the tune of Jaws theme), you end up at a restaurant.  While healthier options are increasingly popping up at restaurants these days, there are still those tempting yet self-defeating selections that stare you in the face and make you think, “even if I ate those buffalo wings right now and went to sleep and never woke up again, it would still be worth it.”  But of course, when we do eat those wings, 9.9 times out of 10 we end up regretting it very shortly thereafter.  That’s why we need a plan – resources to help us get past those enticing menu items that are singing that irresistible siren song.

Here are five strategies for eating out—helping you to feel healthy, proud of your choices and satisfied with your meal:

1. Use your totem
Remember your totem, the cue that reminds you about your true motivation for pursuing your goals? Put it to use! Whether it’s a picture on your phone or a note from someone or a note to yourself, carry this totem with you so that you can be reminded in trying moments about what matters and how to stay the course.  

2. Get a sneak preview
If possible, look at the menu online ahead of time before going to a restaurant.  That way, you can make a clear-headed decision about what you’re going to order, rather than getting caught up in the moment once you’re already there.  

3. Have a go-to
Come up with some options ahead of time for when you’re dining at different types of restaurants:  You can establish a Mexican food choice, a Chinese food choice, and an Italian food choice, so that you always know what works and what modifications are reasonably easy to make at the types of restaurants you go to.  For example, whole beans (not refried), rice, corn tortillas and guacamole are a great Mexican restaurant option that are filling, full of fiber, and delicious, and won’t have you staggering out of the restaurant ready to collapse.  

4. Conquer the basket
When possible, say “no thank you” to that basket of bread or tortilla chips.  But if your dining companions want them and you are forced to confront the basket, put a handful of chips or one piece of bread on a plate in front of you, savor it slowly, and be firm about not going back for seconds.  

5. Don’t go on empty
Just as with grocery shopping, whenever possible, try not to go to a restaurant on a completely empty stomach.  Sometimes that’s just not realistic, but when it is, have a small, healthy snack just prior to going out.  Some crisp veggies and hummus, an apple, or a handful of nuts right before you head out can really take the edge off!

Give these tips a try—we want eating out to be easy, enjoyable and healthy!

Movie recommendation for this weekend:

Plant Pure Nation (available for rent on amazon.com)

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