How to eat healthy when eating out?
“Sarika do you ever eat out?”
“Sarika, you must be eating only salads in the restaurants right?”
“Sarika, don’t you crave desserts”
These are some of the questions which I often get asked. And you know what, I do crave desserts sometimes (I love Banofee pie ;)), I do enjoy eating out and NO, I don’t eat only salads. 🙂
Eating out has become a part of our lives. We eat out for many reasons like socialising, celebrating, working and fun. Sometimes “grabbing a bite on the go” becomes the only option. Even if we enjoy the food, often the guilt creeps in. We feel like our efforts to eat healthily get sabotaged by these restaurant meals. So what to do? Not eat out? Is it even possible? NO. The answer lies in “eating mindfully”. Be smart with the food choices and you should be able to keep the guilt at bay.
I can imagine many of you are thinking that it is easier said than done. But it is really easy. Here are a few tips for the same.
- Eat a healthy snack before leaving home.
- Opt for a soup: Opt for clear soups, vegetable broths and chicken broths. Avoid soups thickened with cornflour. A heartening bowl of soup will partially fill you up.
- Order salad: Always order a salad along with your food. Munch on your salad while the conversations flow. Avoid all dressings, except lemon juice, salt and pepper. If you are a big fan of dressings, ask the dressing to be served separately. Dip your fork in the dressing and eat your salad with that. You won’t miss the flavour then 🙂
- Avoid rich gravies: The gravies are rich due to the copious amounts of cashew nuts or cream. AVOID.
- Opt for grilled meats: Avoid fried and breaded meats like fish and chips, crispy chicken sandwich etc. Instead, opt for grilled meats like chicken tandoori, grilled chicken breast etc.
- Choose your meats carefully: Avoid fatty cuts of meat. Opt for white meat. CHicken breast is a better choice than a leg piece. Always select lean cuts of meat.
- Avoid spreads and sauces.
- Make friends with veggies: Load up on veggies even if you are a meat lover.
- Say NO to the bread basket. Just NO!
- Request for whole grain products like whole wheat/multigrain bread or whole wheat pasta where ever possible.
- Order fish, just make sure that it is not fried fish.
- Skip the drinks: The mocktails and the cocktails are usually loaded with sugar. They are indeed a calorie bomb. So SKIP. Opt for water, plain soda or a glass of wine.
- With alcohol, make the most of your drink. Make one peg last the whole evening. If beer is your drink, then opt for a glass of light beer.
- Water is your biggest saviour. Keep sipping water throughout your meals.
- DESSERT: The biggest killer. Avoid it, that is the best thing to do. Even a small piece of cake can add on anywhere between 350-400 calories. Have a small piece of dark chocolate instead. But if you must have it on some days, share it (sharing is caring after all 😉 ). What I do is I carry a few raisins/dry cranberries/dry blackberries with me. I chew on 2-3 pcs post meals and the craving goes.
- Beware of gluten-free. People think that everything that says gluten-free is healthy. However, that is not the case always. Sometimes these products are loaded with sugar and fats to make up for the lack of gluten. So check before ordering.
- Always a thin crust pizza is your better choice.
- And please pass the fries. PLEASE!
With the above tips, you can enjoy your meals in a guilt-free way. Savour the whole experience and not just the food. If you are eating alone, avoid looking into your phone, you will end up eating mindlessly. Instead, strike a conversation with a stranger. I have had the best of the conversations with strangers. There is this place called Prakash in Dadar which serves authentic Maharashtrian food. It a small and very simple place and you have to share your table with strangers. This is one reason I keep going back there 🙂 Of course the food is fab!
If talking to strangers is something that makes you awkward, then watch the people. People watching is fun and gives you so much fodder to think. Think about it!!