26th October 2020
Eating out is something that many of us enjoy. Whether it’s to socialise with our friends and family or to enjoy world dishes that we love, many of us like to go out to a high quality restaurant from time to time. However, studies have shown that visits to restaurants are linked to overeating and poor food choices (1), and so our plans for a healthy diet will be undermined when our friends want to go to a not-so-healthy eatery. We naturally want to avoid the worst repercussions from this when attempting to make healthy food plans, and while some hacks such as avoiding the buffets are apparent, other things might not be so obvious. And so we’ve put together 5 simple hacks that will help you eat well when out at your favourite restaurants.
1st Hack: Read the menu before you go
If you haven’t familiarised yourself with the menu of the restaurant you’re going to, make sure to do so. When we’re hungry, we tend to make poorer decisions and this goes for making unhealthy choices too. If you check the menu and choose your food beforehand, you will be less likely to make snap choices that you will regret later, in turn impacting the ability to stick to a meal plan.
2nd Hack: Have a healthy snack before you arrive
Apart from the risk of making unhealthy food choices, being hungry when arriving at a restaurant can also mean eating too much. Snacking on a low calorie high protein snack like yogurt can make you feel more full easily, thus preventing overeating.
3rd Hack: Drink water before and during your meal
Water makes for a really strong drink choice both before and during a meal, especially when drunk as a replacement for sugar sweetened drinks. Studies have shown that this replacement with water can reduce your calorie intake and added sugar (2) and one study even showed that people on a diet who drank 500 ml of water half an hour before a meal not only ate fewer calories but also lost 44% more weight over those who did not have water as a pre meal choice (3).
4th Hack: Order your meal before anyone else
It is widely known that other people can influence our decisions (often subconsciously) and dining is no exception to this, where the menu choices of individuals can be highly influenced by that of others. And so our 4th hack here is simple, if eating with a group likely to make menu choices that don’t fit your healthy eating plan, be sure to order first.
5th Hack: Slow down and chew thoroughly
Although it is often tempting to chew down our food as quickly as possible in excitement as we chomp through our dish, it is actually better to slow down and chew more thoroughly. This can help us eat less, making us feel full quicker. Putting your utensils down between mouthfuls also helps with this, allowing your satiety (the feeling of fullness/the suppression of hunger) signals some time to kick in.
Tip: Try counting a minimum number of chews when eating your food to stop the chances of eating too quickly.
To finish, eating out is rightfully enjoyed by countless individuals each day, and you should not be an exception to this. Even on your quest to improve your diet, a dining out experience with your friends, family or partner should not be a hindrance to this goal. And so when you next find yourself in a dilemma where you want to eat healthy but your friends want to go to a not so healthy restaurant, or even worse there are no healthy eateries around, be sure to use the above 5 hacks to reduce the impact on your health journey. Before long, it will become second nature for you to eat mindfully, know what healthy alternatives there are for your favourite foods and what you’ll be eating before you even step through the door.
What do you think of our 5 hacks? What other tips would you recommend? Thanks for reading and let us know your thoughts!