By Dhriti Udeshi,
Nutrition Consultant & Fitness Trainer
The common dieters often get scared of going out to eat because they think it might throw them off the wagon and all food at a restaurant is unhealthy. But the good news is, you can still eat out without the guilt of cheating on your diet plan. You don’t have to be perfect – you just have to know your nutrition basics and have a good game plan, which you’ll find below.
1. Check the menu before hand – Almost every restaurant has posted their menu online, and it’s always better to go prepared. Why? You can see if they offer healthy options and if not, you can pre-plan your meal to avoid temptation. Maybe eat a little something before you go? Or better yet, change the venue.
2. Stay away from bread baskets – Raise your hands if you consume more bread than food when you have the basket in front of you. What else does one do while waiting for their food to arrive, right? WRONG! Send back the basket because before you know you’ll be asking for seconds and thirds before your appetiser even arrives. Or take a few pieces and send the rest away.
3. Know your ingredients – Just because it’s labelled a salad or a soup doesn’t make it healthy. Please read the ingredients below the description or ask the waiter. Often times salads have very high sugar and high fat dressings that are better avoided. And most soups are loaded with cornflour. My advice? Ask for sugar-free dressings and if you have your doubts opt for the dressing on the side so you can add as much as you wish. As for soups, ALWAYS mention “No cornflour/starch” to be added in your soup. You’re welcome 🙂
4. Opt for grilled appetizers – Mostly appetisers are fried to make them more delicious but if you look closer, you will always find grilled options as well. Always opt for these, and you can even double them up if the mains don’t look too healthy. In Indian starters, our tandoor tikkas are the safest and healthiest in almost any place. Vegetarians have options of tandoor/chargrilled broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and paneer whereas non-vegetarians can find their chicken and fish.
5. Stay away from empty calories – Sodas and alcohol are terrible for your waistline. Especially cocktails are loaded with sugar. Ask for dry wine instead or if you absolutely must have a cocktail – skip the sugar and add a dash of lime instead. For non-alcoholic beverages, unsweetened iced tea is my top pick!
6. Swap ingredients – Continental mains often come loaded with fries/mash potato on the side. Ask for potatoes to be swapped with fresh grilled veggies/mushrooms/sauteed spinach and see how light and guilt free you feel post your meal!
7. Indulge smartly – Try to avoid the dessert – especially if you’re full. Don’t give in to temptation just because the dessert on the next table looks good. But if you’re ordering one, make sure you SHARE it with the table and look for desserts with fresh ingredients like cream and berries. Or stop by a frozen yogurt place on the way home to take care of your sweet-tooth.