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Making Healthy Choices While Dining Out

We are now officially more than halfway through January and reaching the point where many new years resolutions start to fail. It is at this time that everyone starts to feel recovered from the hectic holidays and re-emerge into the social scene. So, if your resolution was to eat better or lose weight you likely find yourself with a tough decision. Do I stay home and avoid the temptations of the unhealthy food and high calorie drinks that often come with a night out? Or do I give up on my resolution and enjoy time with my friends and family?

The good news is that you really don’t have to choose! There are plenty of strategies that can be implemented so that you don’t have to sacrifice your health to have a good time.

Strategy #1: Read the menu

Most restaurants will have their menu posted online, so you can plan your meal ahead of time. This gives you the time to make an informed choice and you won’t be distracted by conversations or tempted by the food you see and smell in the restaurant. When we are hungry, we are more likely to make unhealthy decisions, so go in with a plan and stick to it.

Reading the menu can also give you insight into how the food is prepared. Choose meals that say baked, grilled, roasted or steamed as opposed to fried, crispy or crunchy. Choose tomato-based sauces over creamy sauces.

Pay attention to the sides! Many meals are served with a side of fries by default, so ask to trade your fries in for a side salad. Better yet, ask to have the salad as a starter. This will curb your hunger and prevent you from overeating the main course.

Did you know that sauces and dressings can add a ton of calories to your meal? If you ask for the dressing on the side, you can control the amount that you add. Be wary of “low fat” or “fat free” dressings and sauces as these often have added sugar and sodium to improve the taste. My favourite way to dress a salad is with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Vinegar. Not only does it taste great, but olive oil is full of healthy fats. Getting an abundance of high-quality fats in your diet is important, not just for weight loss but also for optimal function of your hormones and immune system. Another reason why extra virgin olive oil is my favourite, is because there are real scientific studies that show it can help to reduce blood pressure and control blood sugar!

Strategy # 2: Drink lots… of the right stuff!

I have already discussed the importance of staying hydrated in a previous blog, but I just cannot say it enough… drink more water! Did you know that thirst can disguise itself as hunger? That’s right! You may think that you are feeling hungry, but it could be that your body is just craving hydration. So, start every meal with a glass of water and don’ t be afraid to refill it frequently.

Avoid drinks that are sweetened, soft drinks and juices are often full of both sugar and calories. If you really can’t stand plain water, try adding some lemon, lime or even a slice of orange.

Of course, we can’t talk about drinks without mentioning alcohol! When enjoying a night out, having a drink or two is very common and according to some studies can even be beneficial if it is consumed in moderation. There are some choices that are better than others, however. If your drink of choice is wine or beer, choose the smaller size. A dry wine will often have less sugar in it than a sweet wine, but my go to is usually a red wine so I can get the benefits of resveratrol as well! To save even more calories and sugars you can opt for a light spirit in an unsweetened mixer, like a vodka or gin soda. I also recommend saving your drink to have with your meal or after, drinking it on an empty stomach could cause your blood sugar levels to spike, while protein and fat can help control that spike!

Strategy # 3: Take your time!

Try taking small bites of food and chewing each one fully, you can even put your cutlery down between bites. This will not only allow you to enjoy the food fully and help you feel satisfied, but it also gives you time to pick up on the satiety signals that your body sends you. By chewing your food completely, you are also making it easier for your digestive system to absorb the nutrients from the foods. This goes for drinks as well! Take small sips and enjoy each one, if you feel thirsty finish your water first.

Strategy #4: Forget what your mom used to tell you!

Remember when you were young, and your parents use to tell you to finish everything on your plate? Well times have changed! If you are full… stop eating! You can always have the leftovers packed up for tomorrow’s lunch. By forcing yourself to eat everything on your plate you are not only sabotaging your health goals by eating extra calories, but you will likely make yourself feel quite uncomfortable too. Trust me, it is just not worth it!

Strategy #5: Forgive yourself

If you do find yourself overeating or indulging in more than 1 drink… don’t sweat it! The best thing you can do is forgive yourself and move on. There is no need to punish yourself at the gym or starve yourself the next day. No one is perfect and a small slip up will not make or break your entire resolution. Focus on all the positive changes that you have made so far, and all the effort you have put into these healthy changes!

If you have any questions or are feeling overwhelmed with where to start, send me a message or book in for a visit. I would love to help you reach your health goals!


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