Dining out can be challenging especially when you are trying to eat healthier. But that doesn’t mean that you should stay home and not enjoy socializing and going out!

It also doesn’t mean that you have to order steamed vegetables, plain fish or sit there twiddling your thumbs while everyone is enjoying their favorite foods from the menu.

Going out to eat is part of life. By incorporating a few different tips, you may find yourself more comfortable when going out and not necessarily ‘beating yourself up’ because you ‘blew it’ and indulged too much.

7 Ways to Eat Healthy in a Restaurant

1. Have a Plan
Eat mindfully during the day and don’t skip meals in anticipation of going out to eat. I usually have a good breakfast like oatmeal or steel cut oats, but will save my carbs and have a salad with some protein for lunch. Don’t forget the salad dressing!
2. Snack time
Have a snack before you go out. If you eat something that’s filling like yogurt and fruit, some protein like a hard boiled egg, veggies and hummus/salsa, you won’t be starving and find yourself eating the whole bread basket by yourself.
3. The Server is Your Friend
Don’t be afraid to ask the server how the dish is prepared or if you’re able to substitute one food item for something else.
4. On the Side
Asking your server if you can have it ‘on the side’ works well and will allow you to control the amount of salad dressing, sauce on your fish, chicken or meat or even how much sour cream is in the baked potato.
5. Plate Size
Restaurant portions are huge! Visualizing your plate will help you: 1/4 with protein, 1/4 grains/carbs and 1/2 with veggies. Don’t be shy to take home leftovers or even share.
6. Bread or No Bread?
If you decide that you’re not going to have ANY bread, the little picks of the ends do count, as do the crusts. So rather than ‘pick’, make a decision. If you want a piece of bread, have ONE piece and enjoy it!
7. Get Out of the ‘Diet Mindset’
If you take the attitude that you’re ‘blowing it anyways’ or this is ‘my cheat meal’, you’ll end up eating way more than you wanted to. Remember, you’re not dieting, so there’s no wagon to ‘fall off of’ and no ‘blowing it’ when you eat out.

Restaurants don’t have to spell disaster. If you want some fries with your meal, why not? You may decide to have half fries and half veggies? Or just a few fries with a healthier main choice and healthier side? It’s up to you. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t “perfect’. This isn’t about being 100%, it’s about being mindful in your choices and portion sizes. Have a plan to eat a healthy breakfast the next day, enjoy a great salad with tuna or eggs for lunch and have a fabulous dinner. If restaurants are part of your lifestyle, you can make it work. It’s all about finding the balance, your balance.

I’d love to hear tips and what works for you in the comments below!

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