Healthy eating when you're dining out

28 June 2016
An image showing a couple dining out

New restaurant in town? Nothing beats a lovely meal out. It’s a great way to socialise and a chance to forget about doing the cooking and the washing up!

If you’re wary though of eating too many calories when eating out – and it’s very easy to do – don’t despair! These are my top tips to help make your dining experience both tasty and good for you.

Consider how your food is cooked

When you’re deciding what to order from the menu, remember that the way your food is cooked will determine how healthy it is. Foods served deep-fried, crispy, pan-fried, sautéed, buttered, creamed or stuffed are usually high in fat and calories. Instead, look for steamed, baked or grilled options. If you do go for something like a steak, ask the chef to hold off on the basting (which adds sugar and extra calories).

Choose from the ‘healthy’ section

Many restaurants now have a ‘healthy option’ section on the menu, or may mark certain meals that are lower in calories. If this isn’t signposted on the menu, ask your waiter or waitress which are the healthiest choices. Also, consider your portion size – restaurant portions are often a lot larger than what you would serve yourself at home. You may also feel like you have to eat it all to get your money’s worth. Either ask for a smaller portion or ask to have what you can’t eat boxed up so you can take it home.

Cut the fat

Choose fish, seafood or chicken instead of red meat or cheese options. If you do order meat, cut off any visible fat or remove the skin from chicken. In fact, in most places the chef won’t mind removing excess fat and skin before cooking it, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Picking a restaurant

All-you-can-eat offers or ‘help yourself’ buffets are never a good choice if you’re watching your waistline because you’re likely to eat more food than you need. Also, the type of cuisine you choose is also worth considering. Depending on what you order and the individual restaurant, Indian restaurants and American diner-style eateries are usually less healthy options than Japanese or vegetarian places.

Decide before you go

Many restaurants will feature their menu online, so take a look before you go when you’re not hungry. Take your time to decide what may be the healthier options and choose what you plan to order beforehand. This will help reduce any temptation to order high-fat meals when you get to the restaurant and are at your hungriest!

Room for afters?

Even after a large meal, a tantalising dessert menu can tempt even those with the strongest will power. If you fancy something sweet, ask the waiter if they can prepare a fruit salad or if they have any sorbet, even if it’s not on the menu. These are much healthier options than high-fat puddings or ice cream. If your tastebuds get the better of you, ask others if they would like to share a dessert with you to cut the calories.

Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health. You’ll receive a personalised lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a healthier, happier you. 

Dietitian at Bupa UK

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