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Eating out on a Healthy Diet? How to Eat Healthy When Dining at Restaurants

Healthy DiningDining out at a restaurant is supposed to be fun right?  And you should leave feeling satisfied and happy.  But what happens with a lot of us, we get carried away in the luxury of it all.  We get carried away in the atmosphere, the smells, the excitement, and the extensive menus.  Sometimes we just want to order everything, from appealing appetizers, to tasty sides, to indulgent desserts.  We get fully carried away in the moment and we only think of satisfying the hunger in our bellies.  But then the moment comes after the meal, where you say to yourself, “oh no!  I shouldn’t have eaten all that!”  You overate, you indulged, and you ate things you shouldn’t have.  You realize now that the moist chocolate cake you ate was loaded with sugar, your appetizer was high in fat and oil, you ate way too much bread on the side, and your main meal was fried!  You can’t even think about how many calories it all came to, you don’t want to know!  Many of us know this feeling, and we feel pretty awful and full of regret.  We try to stick to our healthy eating plan and this one meal, which was supposed to be a fun night out with friends, has left us feeling pretty bad about ourselves.  Well the good news is, there is a way to avoid all of this, there is a way to feel great after a meal out with friends.

There are those of us who love dining out, but are trying to lose weight at the same time.  You may be thinking “how on earth can I lose weight when dinners eaten at restaurants can have over 1000 calories?”  Don’t worry it is possible!  There are also those of us who love to eat out at restaurants, but we know deep down it can be not very healthy for you and your family, if you are not careful.  It is possible to eat healthy and still enjoy going out to eat at restaurants.  You can keep your healthy diet, you can keep in shape, and you can lose weight too.  You just need to be a little more informed and be a little bit more careful when you order.  By learning a bit more about nutrition, by learning what foods are good for you and what foods are bad for you, and by making smarter choices when ordering, it is certainly doable to eat out regularly and still maintain a very healthy diet.

 

Here are some quick healthy eating tips:

You can start following them right now to eat healthier and save on calories when dining in restaurants.

Be careful of drinks – Sometimes people forget how high in calories a simple drink can be, and how awfully high the sugar content is!  It is best to avoid beer and any alcoholic drinks (one glass of red wine may be the exception), as well as any soft drinks.  These drinks contain a very high amount of calories that you simply don’t want or need.  For drink options, consider cold water, iced tea, or water with lemon.  Start avoiding the sugar and calories in drinks and you will thank me later!  In fact, I have gotten so used to ordering water with every meal, it is now what I always prefer, and I find it so refreshing, I can’t have a meal with anything else!Healthy Eating - Salad

Check out the salad menu – Consider ordering a salad for your appetizer, side dish or even main course.  Salad for a meal is a very healthy choice and is very low in calories.  Your salad does not have to be boring either, as many restaurants now offer very tasty salads on their menus.  For an extra healthy salad and to save on calories, ask for no croutons or cheeses.  Be sure to check the dressings also.  An olive oil and vinegar dressing is a healthy choice.  Avoid any creamy dressings as these tend to be high in fat.  Instead, stick to vinegar based dressings, and don’t put too much on.

Watch the appetizers – Appetizers are a dangerous game.  They usually add loads of calories and fat to your meal, and some even have more calories than the main course!  Unfortunately in many restaurants, appetizers are also often not very healthy.  They are often fatty and greasy foods, which then make you crave more fatty and greasy foods.  Appetizers are often very high in fat, high in carbohydrates, are oily, or are fried foods such as potato skins, fries, nachos, buffalo wings, cheese fries, and fried seafood  And don’t forget the calories in the sauces that come with these dishes.  To make matters worse, these appetizers can be very hard to resist when you are hungry and ordering your meal.  Sometimes people try and go a bit healthier by ordering dishes that trick you such as artichoke and spinach dip.  Dips can sound healthy, but often the cream used in the dip is loaded in fat.  Try to avoid ordering appetizers altogether if you can, and save your hunger for your main meal.  Trust me; you will not miss it once you have your main course.  You do not need the appetizer, and people are often very hungry when ordering these so tend to rush it and order something unhealthy.  You are still having you main course and that will satisfy your hunger.  You will save a ton of calories, fat and avoid eating very unhealthy foods by skipping appetizers altogether.  Don’t start your meal off unhealthy, and if you do order an appetizer, see if you can order sliced fruit, or a healthy salad.

Healthy Eating - FishChoose the method of cooking wisely – Avoid fried or battered foods, and opt for grilled or broiled instead.  These methods are much healthier, will save you loads of calories and fat, and in my opinion, taste better too.  Fried foods are not only higher in calories and fat, but can also rob the food of its nutrients.  Often friend foods in many restaurants are cooked in cheaper oils which contain trans fats, which are bad for your heart, and best to be avoided.

Watch your sides – Do not forget the amount of calories in that innocent piece of bread on the table!  You are not dining out for the side dishes; these are meant to compliment your main meal.  So don’t forget to pay attention to any sides you order and any that come with your main meal.  And don’t fill up on the bread some restaurants have on the table, ask them to take it away!  Side dishes such as breads, chips and onion rings are packed with calories and carbohydrates, so avoid these at all costs.  Order a side dish of salad or veggies instead.  With your main meal, if you want something extra, consider ordering a double serving of vegetables with your order or minus the bowl of chips or garlic bread that comes with the meal, and ask for a plate of fruit instead.  As many people do not get the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables each day for a healthy diet, if you want any extras, this is an excellent way to go.

Choose sauces and dressings wisely – To save on calories in your dishes sauce, opt for tomato based, over cream based.  As previously mentioned, when it comes to dressings, a general rule is vinegar based dressings will be better for you than creamy based dressings.  Also when it comes to these additions to foods, it’s a good idea to be able to choose and control how much of it you eat.  Ask your waiter to have the sauce or dressing in a separate dish, so you have full control over the amount you are eating.

Avoid desserts high in sugar – Do not be tempted by the chocolate cakes and mousses on display and avoid dessert altogether if you can.  If you must have something sweet, have a cup of tea or coffee with skim milk instead.  And if you really must have a cake, opt for something low fat or low-carb if you can, like a low-carb cheesecake.  Or better than any of these options; end your meal with a refreshing plate of sliced fruit.  Desserts can have more calories than the whole meal and do not satisfy your hunger or fill you up; they can actually do the opposite.  Sugary desserts often make people crash and feel tired sooner, and then they crave more sugary foods when they get home.

Healthy Salad

Don’t eat too much – Just because a certain amount of food is brought to you that you paid for, does not mean you have to eat it all!  People often overeat in restaurants because they want to get their money’s worth, and leave feeling overstuffed, sick and regretful.  Don’t neglect your body by eating too much at restaurants or even when ordering in, the same principle applies.  You can always ask for a container to take the rest of the food home with you and pop it in the fridge when you get home.  You will have something ready to eat for lunch the next day, which only needs to be reheated.  And it will be something healthy too, if you chose your meal wisely.

Keep the above guide in mind when eating out at any restaurant, café, and even when ordering in.  By following these healthy dining tips, you can turn a potentially unhealthy and high calorie meal into a healthy one that will leave you feeling good, satisfied and not guilty.  You will still be able to enjoy the restaurant dining experience, and the fun that comes from eating out with friends, but your health and your waistline won’t suffer from a night out to dinner.

Make a conscience choice today to eat healthy even when dining out and you won’t ruin your healthy eating diet with a high calorie, high fat or high sugar meal.  You will feel happier after the meal and you also won’t have to feel guilty afterwards like you normally would after eating or overeating out at a restaurant.

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How to Find the Best Restaurants near You

Choosing a restaurantOften people do not put much thought into where to find a good restaurant when eating out.  People often have their favorite restaurants or their usual restaurants, and will continue to only go to those as it’s a safe choice.  They know what they are getting, they are used to the menu, they are happy with the service, and they didn’t have to put any thought into it.  But how does one go about broadening their options?  If you don’t want to stick to the same two restaurants every week, try something new!  Experiment with new cuisines!  Perhaps try a dish or cuisine you have never tasted before.  These experiences add excitement both to our lives and our taste buds!  So how can one go about finding new good restaurants to eat at?

Word of Mouth – This is an excellent way to find out what restaurant’s the locals prefer and why.  You only need to be a little social to find the best local restaurants very quickly and easily.  Ask residents on main streets where they prefer to dine, or ask shopkeepers which restaurants in the area are the most popular.  Often staffs at pubs, clubs and especially hotels are used to being asked where the best places to dine in the area are, so give them a shot too.

Review Websites – There are many websites around now that review restaurants in your area for you.  These can be professional bloggers or a collection of reviews from regular people who have eaten at the restaurant in question.  Websites such as Zagat.com, urbanspoon.com, and dine.com are available for use, and have a huge collection of restaurants and reviews from cities all around the world.  The website I’d probably go to first though would be Yelp.com.  I find it pretty easy to navigate and there is often a large collection of reviews from regular people for restaurants in many of the areas I’m looking at.  I also like how you can see very quickly if a restaurant has many high (4 or 5) or many low (1-2) star reviews from customers.  I’m not saying it’s better than the other websites; I just have more experience with using it.  Try a few of them out and see for yourself, which site you think is the most useful and best one for you.

Local Newspapers – Picking up the local newspaper in an area you are new to, can be a good source of information on the local businesses.  Check out the lifestyle section or food columns to see if any restaurants have been reviewed recently and what kind of review they received.  Also keep an eye out for ads from local restaurants that you do not know about.  You may find a hidden gem of a restaurant, just off the main street, that you didn’t even know was there.

Local Magazines – Pick up free local magazines, or if you are in a main city you may find magazines you can buy which feature reviews and lists of good restaurants in the city.

Italian Restaurant CuisineWalk down Main Streets and Hubs – Have no idea what you want to eat?  Go for a walk!  Taking a stroll down the street, on your own or with a friend, is a great way to find new restaurants to dine at.  Try the main streets or hub near where you live, or where you are currently staying.  Or you could travel to well known suburbs and streets known for their many restaurants and cafes.  This is quite a lovely way to spend an evening, if you have some extra time, to just stroll around looking at all the restaurants, shops and cafes in a hub or main street.  The best part about finding a restaurant this way, is not only is it fun, you can also check out how busy a restaurant is.  Is it popular?  Can I get a table?  And you can smell the food before you even go in!  When I walk past a restaurant that smells delicious from outside and is obviously popular, I have confidence I am choosing a restaurant with good food.

If travelling, ask your hotel staff – When travelling, you are most likely new to the area and have absolutely no idea where the good restaurants are.  Finding out where you should dine is far from impossible however.  You can look up magazines or websites of course, but you can also ask the hotel staff where you are staying.  The concierge and desk staff is usually very used to being asked questions about the area, especially where the best places are to eat, as everybody loves to dine out when travelling.  They are trained and informed to answer your questions and usually very friendly too.  They may have brochures or local maps also to help you find the place.

The Phone Book – Last, but not least, there is always the option of looking in the phone book for restaurants.  Although there are no reviews of the restaurants in the phone book, you may see a restaurant you have always wanted to try, one a friend mentioned once that you forgot about, or one with your favorite cuisine.  Or perhaps you will just see a restaurant very close to you and think why not give it a try.  It is always a gamble trying new restaurants this way, but if you don’t have access to the internet, or are short on time, it is always an option, as long as you have a phone book of course.

Finding new good restaurants to eat at is a great idea as it brings variety to your cuisine as well as a new experience for you and your family and friends.  It’s always fun to go somewhere new, so don’t be afraid to broaden your horizons and take the plunge to try a new place.  Following the tips above you now have many ways in which you can find new restaurants and can make a good restaurant choice and increase the odds of finding a restaurant you will love.  Then, instead of only having a couple of restaurants to choose from when dining out, you will have a whole bundle!