We have all been there. We want to enjoy our healthy meal and still be able to socialize. Follow these easy 10 tips! These healthy tips will help you steer any situation while eating out. You can enjoy your meal and enjoy the moment!

Plan Ahead

If you’re able to plan ahead contact the restaurant, then you can preview the menu online. In addition to reviewing the menu, you can also check out the restaurant’s overall food philosophy. Previewing the menu online is a great way to plan and familiarize yourself with what the restaurant offers. When you arrive at the restaurant you can come with a plan, which makes your healthy eating behaviors easier to stick with. We know social situations and how they can easily alter our “plan” or choices we wanted to initially make. Instead of changing your mind last minute because everyone is ordering similar items, stick to your original plan. If you’re eating out and it’s a spontaneous get-together, then the following may apply to you.

Eat a snack

Have a healthy snack before you go. A snack that’s high in fiber, healthy fats, or protein. Try a hardboiled egg with veggies, handful of raw nuts, or fiber rich crackers with hummus.

Pile on the Veggies

Ask your server to add extra portions of vegetables in place of less healthy sides or in addition. You may get a small charge, but many times they’ll be happy to swap it out without it costing more. Vegetables are excellent sources of fiber and we know fiber keeps us fuller for longer. By making vegetables the center of your meal when eating out, can ensure you’re getting enough fiber in your meal that’ll keep you full, maintain a good blood sugar balance, and can prevent you from overeating.

Ask about the prep of the meal

Ask your server about how the food is prepared, sometimes a simple dish can have hidden oils, salt, and sauces. This knowledge will allow you to ask for alterations about your meal preparation.

Chose cooking methods which include steaming, broiling, baking, or roasting. Ask that olive oil be the main oil used and in minimal amounts. Healthy fats and olive oil are great, but the amount still matters. Remember, restaurants tend to use more oils, salt, and seasonings to boost flavor so ask them what they use. Ask for those items on the side so you can control the amount you would like to use.

Say no to the bread basket or Tortilla Chips

Watch out for those extra calories before you even order your meal when you help yourself into the bread basket or tortilla chips. Instead opt for a healthy snack, like a small plate of veggies.

Photo by Anna Pelzer 

Order A Salad First

Order your salads with the dressing on the side and opt for dressings that are olive oil based. Or opt for olive oil and vinegar and make your own table side!

Skip the fancy drinks

If you must order an alcoholic drink, forget the margaritas, piña coladas, and other exotic mixed drinks coladas because they’ll just add hundreds—or even thousands—of extra calories. You could always stick with water for your mealtime beverage or unsweetened iced tea if you need a little taste. But if you just must have a little alcohol? Opt for a glass of red wine (for the antioxidant benefits) or a vodka with a splash of club soda and a lime.

Take a break between meals

Eating quickly is a surefire way to overeat. Counteract that tendency by putting down your silverware between each bite to rest for a minute or so. This gives you the perfect amount of time to add to the dinner conversation and gives you the chance to gauge your hunger level before taking another bite.

Have the appetizer as your main meal

Find some healthy options on the appetizer menu. Order a couple different appetizers and eat it as your main meal. Keep away from the fried, breaded, and sauced versions of the appetizers to keep it from becoming a calorie disaster.

Enjoy the meal!

If you’re engaging in healthy lifestyle practices, then enjoying a meal passionately may be good for your emotional health! Food is much more than nourishing our body, it’s also enjoying moments with loved ones and socializing.

Do you have any suggestions to add to this list? Email me or Tag me in a photo on Instagram the next time you eat a meal out with one of these healthy eating tips!

Carol Aguirre MS, RD/LDN