Essential tips for eating out the healthy way

Whether it’s the Monday morning breakfast roll to work or afternoon tea on Sunday with the girls, there has never been more reason or temptation to eat outside of the home.

Eating out is here to stay, but how do you experience all of the joy but none of the guilt that eating out has to offer?

Here are some tips from the dietitians at Croí Heart and Stroke Charity on eating healthy when out and about.

Tips for eating out the healthy way

Fail to plan and plan to fail, take time to plan your meals in advance. If you find yourself eating out a lot then try and have a healthy go-to spot. Some places have a sample menu on their website giving you a taste of what’s on offer and even sometimes the calorie content of meals.

Don’t arrive too hungry, as you are more likely to make poor decisions and overeat at your meal. It’s more difficult to avoid nibbling on bread sticks beforehand and overeating if you arrive too hungry. Avoid overdoing it by eating healthy snacks like fruit and nuts between meals if hungry.

Downsize your portion, ask for a half portion of your meal. In asking for a half portion it allows you to enjoy your preferred meal without overeating and feeling bloated. Many restaurants will be able to package up the remainder of the meal, meaning you get to re-visit the experience in the comfort of your own home.

Fill up on lower fat foods, eat a variety of vegetables, salads, fruits and legumes with your meals. Try snacking on fruit if hungry before a meal, having salad as a sandwich filler, and ordering a side salad or bowl of vegetables instead of additional chips and potatoes.

Skip the extras, don’t be afraid to ask for alterations and substitutions to your meal. Ask that butter or mayonnaise not be added to sandwiches, salad dressings and sauces on the side, boiled vegetables without added butter and for a cup of soup or side salad instead of chips or wedges.

Slow down and take time to scan the menu, take in the atmosphere, eat slowly, stay present noting all of the smells, tastes and textures of the meal. And when it’s time to stop, STOP. Don’t dwell on your mother telling you to clean your plate. Once full, leave a napkin over the plate or ask to have what’s left over boxed up to take home.

Skip dessert or split dessert, and go for a walk. It’s no easy task to turn a blind eye to a selection of pastries at a meetings or the “special” on a desserts board.

If having a little holiday, pack a picnic. With the summer months upon us and the sun coming out, it has never been a better time to pull out the picnic blankets and dust off the plastic cutlery. Have a rummage through your fridge and get planning a tasty selection of sandwiches and salads filled with seasonal fruits and vegetables. You will know exactly what’s in your lunch and will be amazed by how much money you save and fun you have in the process.

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