So last night, I had the pleasure of participating in one of the weekly #FoodieChats created by @SteveGoGreen that goes down Monday evenings on Twitter (a thing that every food blogger, cook, chef, or brand ambassador must do at least once.) Last night’s chat was a condensed version of the usual format: it lasted for one hour and consisted of only six questions, as opposed to its usual 90-minute, ten-question setup.
Of the six questions asked, one on the subject of dining out inspired me to examine my habits in that area, and so seemed like a good topic for sharing here. The question was “When dining out what are your tips to eating healthier?” and in the course of responding to it, I realized I’d been doing several health-conscious things without realizing it or having made the determination to do so. I’ve collected those things here.
The following list, an expanded version of my Twitter response, is by no means exhaustive. These are far from being the only ways to eat healthier at restaurants. They’re just a few steps I’ve unwittingly started taking in the right direction without knowing that I had until called to reflect on the matter.
1. Skip bread course: Yes, I realize bread is not evil. I’ve generally found it to be delicious, or at least passable at most restaurants that choose offer it as a meal opener. And yes, depending largely on the type of bread one chooses, it can fit well into a healthy diet. But speaking in the most general of terms, the high carbs and relatively low nutrient levels(I’m looking at you, white bread) make this a course one looking for a healthier dining out experience can safely skip.
2. Skip appetizers: This one depending on the kind of restaurant you’re visiting. If the apps menu is rife with fried, cheese-filled, creamy sauce-drenched things, then, deliciousness notwithstanding, leave them be.
3. Select a veggie-heavy entrée if possible, or veggie sides: Figure I don’t need to explain this one. Vegetables are good for you and a great source of vitamins and minerals.
4. Choose water over soft drinks/cocktails: Overindulgence in sugar-laden sodas or mixed drinks full of alcohol and sugar will never be a way forward in terms of beneficial eating habits.
5. Skip or share dessert: Either skip dessert altogether, or share one if you’re dining with someone unlikely to mind doing so. The high levels of fat and sugar that make things taste great also pack on the pounds, so tread carefully.
You’ll never hear that I believe these should all be followed all of the time, without fail. It’s okay to be selective with which options you choose to adopt. Part of enjoying food and dining out is being able to cut loose once in a while and have something one wouldn’t ordinarily have. Moderation is key. But trying even two of the above the next time you go out for a meal will pay big dividends with regard to improving your health and lifestyle.