Let’s just get one thing straight before we start – I am all for indulgence; I will always say yes to the dessert menu and I might as well change my name to Too Full. Life really is too short for scrolling the #foodporn hashtag in a bid to curb your cravings. Just eat the waffle for God’s sake. On the other hand, I do recognise the importance of calorie counting and being mindful of what you’re putting in your mush and eating out can be one of the trickiest times to keep on top of this.
Here are my top tips for reducing calories and going for the healthy options when dining out:
Share and share alike
When there’s a special occasion in the pipeline, a date night coming up or a reservation at your favourite restaurant just because, it can be easy to stuff yourself with all three courses. Dining out typically means starters, mains and desserts because the menu says so and there are often a whole host of deals on offer to tempt you. However, why not try sharing each course instead? You won’t feel as full, it’s a more exciting way of dining and you won’t be horrified at the number on the scales the next day.
Pick from the mocktail menu
You don’t need me to tell you that alcohol can be a real bitch when you’re trying to keep that calorie count down. You’re looking at nearly 200 calories for a glass of wine and even a G&T with slimline tonic wracks up about 60 kcals and well, every little counts right? Some days, you’ve got to allow yourself a little of what you like so there’s no harm in having a couple of glasses of wine with your meal but if you’re staying strict, the mocktail menu is your best friend. All of the fun without the guilt (or the hangover!)
Fill up on protein and veggies
If and when you are looking at a menu with calorie-conscious eyes, stick to vegetable-based dishes, fish and meat. Sometimes a huge bowl of Spaghetti Bolognese or a whacking great pizza is all you want and nothing else will do but for those times when your willpower is a little stronger, load up on proteins and greens instead. Your waistline will thank you later.
Under this umbrella comes considering carb-free (or low carb) side orders. While it can be tempting to go for a big bowl of chips, a portion of mac ‘n’ cheese or some bread on the side of your main meal, these are some of the main calorie hoarders. If you are looking to cut back a little, go for less calorific options such as vegetables, side salads or sweet potato. Mind your dressings and oils though – ‘healthy’ sides often disguise a multitude of sins.
Workout your plate game plan
Okay so you’ve packed your plate with nutritious grub (and a little treat here and there of course), now it’s time to eat with a little more consideration than usual. Instead of wolfing it all down as fast as you can, take your time chewing and enjoying your meal instead. Doing this will also aid the digestion process and help you beat the bloat post-food baby.
It’s also advised to go for the proteins and the vegetables on your plate first before filling up on fats and carbohydrates. So for example, if you’re a steak, spuds and broccoli kind of person – eat your steak first, along with your greens and then tackle the potatoes after. This way, you won’t miss out on any advantageous vitamins and minerals sitting on your plate.
Don’t forget your h2o
You’ve heard it time and time again but I’m going to be that gal and say it one more time: don’t forget your water! Not only is it vital for hydration, beneficial for brain function and essential for healthy hair, skin and nails; water is also an absolute MUST when you’re trying to cutback and/or lose weight.
Sipping on a glass of ice cold water as you peruse the menu will stop you from making hanger-based choices. In the same way you should never stroll the supermarket aisles when you’re hungry, you should never browse a restaurant menu on a completely empty stomach. Sure, you don’t want to spoil your meal so don’t go overboard but chugging on a glass of the good stuff can make you feel fuller for longer.
This post has been written by food & drink blogger, Steph. Find her being a whole lot less calorie-conscious and health-proof over at Hungry Harriet.