Unless you’re constantly dining out a lot with colleagues after work and on weekends—it’s okay to indulge a little and enjoy whatever you want from the menu. These are life’s little joys that we all need to experience, on occasion for balanced emotional health as well. It’s giving yourself permission to not be so restrictive that dining out is an uncomfortable experience.
People (myself included) who generally maintain a healthy eating regimen, usually refer to these as “cheat food rewards”. These celebratory moments that we allow ourselves don’t often affect our healthy eating goals or overall weight management.
On the other hand, if you dine out frequently, it’s important to chose some healthier options. You can also visit restaurants that feature flavorful yet healthier Mediterranean styled cuisines. These tend to be more conducive to a heart healthy and delicious nutrient rich diet. There should always be a balanced selection and plating ratio of vegetables vs fats (meats or breads). Fat is something that many restaurants have come to ‘lean on’ (no pun). But interestingly—despite it’s reputation as a butter rich cuisine, authentic “FRENCH cooking” these days actually uses relatively little fat, preferring to create taste with other elements.
Dining choices don’t necessarily have to be ‘strictly’ vegan or vegetarian options. Eating and lifestyle habits are formed through a variety of factors (cultural, medical, religious, etc.), and are personal and individualized. What counts is what you eat as in REAL food versus PROCESSED; and the combination of certain foods together along with mindful awareness of how your body feels during your meal and even more importantly—afterwards.
When we engage in ’emotional eating’ habits that are not conducive to healthy weight management; we suffer long-term detriment to our healthy and longevity. Living a healthy lifestyle as a busy professional need not be depriving or restrictive but you still need to modify certain dining behaviors.
Tips to Dining Out for a Healthy Lifestyle:
Limiting or eliminating certain choices you make early in your meal. This includes certain types of appetizers and high calorie drinks.
Not consuming lots of bread which adds fats and sugars to your gut.
If you are currently trying to lose weight but dine out a lot— “rethink and restrict” . Choose lighter vinaigrettes or request healthy oils with herbs and spices be added. Eliminate those thickly sauced, creamed and buttered dishes.
Skip high calorie, sugary beverages. Drink a glass of water before you eat anything.
If you will be having wine for the evening, request that it comes with your meal so that your food absorbs some of the calories and alcohol.