Dining out is fun, social and we don’t have to cook or clean. However, if you’re on a diet, trying to lose a few pounds or simply just trying to be healthy, eating out can really send you’re efforts a few steps in reverse. The menu can be full of so many delicious choices and you never know how much butter, oil or sugar the chef is putting in your dish.

That doesn’t mean we should never dine out just because we are trying to be healthy or lose some weight. We just need to be smart when we do eat out: choose wisely and resist temptation! So here are a few simple points that you can follow when you’re dining out for a guilt-free meal which you’ll still enjoy!

  1. Beverages

    Choose water as your beverage or unsweetened tea. Soda drinks are just empty calories. Why not use these calories for some yummy food instead!

  2. Alcohol

    If you drink alcohol, try to avoid the sugary cocktails. These are pumped full of calories and you’ll drink them fast because they taste so good! Instead, try some red wine or a spirit (such as vodka) with soda water and lime. If you are more of a beer drinker, then choose a light beer.

  3. Starters

    Instead of choosing chicken wings or something fried as a starter, why not opt for a salad? This will satisfy hunger pangs and hold you over until the main course. Ask for the salad dressing on the side and just use it to ‘dip’ with each bite instead of pouring it over the whole dish. Often the salad dressings (when they are poured over the dish) take away from the actual salad because they are so overpowering.

  4. Dressings

    If you’re salad comes with a heavy dressing (such as ranch), ask instead for a vinaigrette or simply for some balsamic vinegar. You will save 200 or more calories just by making this simple adjustment, not to mention lots of grams of unnecessary fat.

  5. Main Course

    Choose main dishes that include vegetables such as stir fries or opt for vegetables as a side dish instead of fries or potatoes. You will find you will fill up on veggies and meat/fish comfortably instead of that uncomfortable fullness that comes from eating too many starchy carbohydrates.

  6. How it’s Cooked

    Choose steamed, grilled or broiled meats/fish instead of fried or sautéed and again, ask for the sauce on the side if possible. Avoid, as much as possible, deep fried and battered fish and meats. These dishes are just swimming in oils which are not only unhealthy for the heart but will also inevitably add to weight gain.

  7. Take Your Time

    Eat slow. It takes your body 15 – 20 minutes to feel full. If you’ve devoured your entire meal within 5 minutes, your body hasn’t even had time to process this and to inform you that actually you would have been full after just half of the meal.

  8. Not Very Hungry?

    If you’re not starving and you’re only out to dinner for the social element, don’t order an entire main course for yourself just for the sake of it. Share a main dish with a friend or order an entrée sized main course.

  9. Condiments

    Avoid adding butter and/or salt to your meal. You can guarantee the chef has already done this – in abundance.

  10. Dessert

    Choose fruit salad or a light dessert such as sorbet or gelato. More times than not, dessert is just something to satisfy a sweet tooth and we don’t need the entire slice of cake, we only really need a bite! So share a dessert with friends or opt for a light dessert.

Thanks for Reading. Be smart, eat smart.

Megan O'Neill

Megan O'Neill is a musician, psychologist, nutrition advisor and an absolute health-nut! She currently resides in London, but - as you may have guessed from the name - is originally from Ireland. Six years ago, following an incredible trip to Asia, she suddenly became very ill with IBS, food intolerances and chronic fatigue. No-one could have predicted how that fateful trip would... Read More

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