FOOD

Dining Out And Trying To Eat Healthily? Avoid These Foods And Drinks

Tip: have a snack beforehand.

16/03/2017 11:25 AM AEDT | Updated 16/03/2017 10:54 PM AEDT

Sticking to healthy whole foods at home is easy. Well, easy-ish. But as soon as we go out for food with friends, our entire healthy eating programme can disappear faster than you can say 'turmeric latte'.

Luckily, eating healthily when dining out is possible -- you just have to know what to avoid.

"It's not absolutely necessary to stop going out. It's about making the best choice when out and what you do day-to-day which will have the most impact," nutritionist and celebrity chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin told The Huffington Post Australia.

"Making healthy choices can be easy when eating out. The important thing is not to succumb to peer pressure or be tempted by the not-so-healthy options on the menu," nutritionist Fiona Tuck said.

"Don't be scared to order meals with dressings on the side, or order extra sides of veggies so you have something to fill up on without snacking on bread or chips."

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And even if you slip up and accidentally order (and eat) that entire pizza, don't beat yourself up. Just return to healthy eating and get on with it.

"If you are living a healthy lifestyle day-to-day, a meal or two out will not have a detrimental impact and is likely going to be food for the soul," Bingley-Pullin said. "If feeling deprived, you are more likely to go off track, so a break from your routine is beneficial from a motivation perspective."

Here are some tips for healthy dining out.

1. Have a snack beforehand

Not eating in the lead up to a meal might seem like a good idea, but chances are you'll overeat because you're hangry. Especially when it comes to drinking alcohol, having something in your stomach will help.

"Drinking on an empty stomach can cause excess hunger and lead to poor food choices. Aim to eat a protein-rich snack, such as a handful of raw nuts or seeds, before heading out," Bingley-Pullin said.

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2. Stay focused (and resist temptation)

"We can go out with the good intention of eating grilled salmon and veggies, for example, but get swayed by the large creamy pasta carbonara that went past to the next table," Tuck said.

"Don't allow yourself to get tempted by delicious unhealthy meals. This doesn't mean you can never order the less healthy options -- just keep the portions smaller. For example, order the starter size and make it a monthly treat as opposed to every day."

3. Watch the portions

"Portion size can be a big trap. Our portion sizes are getting larger, so eating huge portions of grains, bread, chips and pasta isn't going to help," Tuck told HuffPost Australia.

"Eating to excess is incredibly common. Most people want value for money and tend to eat everything on their plate," Bingley-Pullin said. "Opting for an 'upsize' seems cheaper, but we don't need that much food. Stick to original portions and eat until satisfied."

Tip: If you know the restaurant serves huge portions, ask for a small serve or simply eat half of the meal and ask for the leftovers to take home for the next day.

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Go for a wholemeal burger bun and extra veggie fillings.

4. Be wary of sauces, butter dressings and salad dressings

"These can drench a meal and add extra calories -- not something that is beneficial if you are trying to lose weight," Tuck said.

"Feel free to ask for sauces and dressings on the side and veggies with butter on the side. This allows you the control to have small tastings and portions without loading up on excess calories."

5. Order extra veggies

Order a dish that's packed with veggies, or if it's not, order extra veggies to have on the side. Try a veggie burger (hold the chips -- or share) with a side salad.

"Order a vegetable-rich side or make sure to eat vegetables in the meals leading up to eating out," Bingley-Pullin said. "Most restaurants skimp on veg unless you are ordering a salad and instead load the plate with excess carbs."

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Tip: dine somewhere that specialises in healthy food. They'll serve delicious dishes.

6. Consider the cooking method

While fried food is delicious, try sticking to less energy-rich cooking methods.

"Look at cooking method -- opt for poached, slow cooked, roasted or steamed, and reduce intake of fried, especially deep fried," Bingley-Pullin said.

7. Don't be afraid to ask

Not sure what's in a dish? Or want extra veggies? Ask the wait staff nicely, or call beforehand so you and they are better prepared.

"Don't be afraid to speak up and ask for what you want. If you want to question a dish, do it. If you want dressing on the side, ask for it," Bingley-Pullin said.

Here are 10 foods and drinks to avoid when you're dining out and trying to eat healthily.

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