Eating out can be tough when you are trying to make the right choices. It is infinitely harder when you have no say in the venue – however not impossible. I have made it work for me at all kinds of restaurants… Including steak houses and airports! It all comes down to creativity and attitude. This is a no-brainer, but do not be rude or preachy. When dealing with the waiter smile, be polite, and apologize for having a tricky order. If the venue permits, try approaching them away from the table and from other people. At all times be patient and understanding. If the people you are dining with ask questions, then answer them, but do not make them feel uncomfortable with their food choices. You catch way more flies with honey! Above all else, dining out is an experience. It is not just about the food, it is about the décor, company and overall vibe. So make sure to enjoy yourself, and not get too caught up by what is on your plate. Life is short, and good food and company is one of its greatest pleasures!
Research the menu before you go. I always look up the restaurant and see what they have to offer to suit my dietary needs. That way I am not blind-sided and overwhelmed once I arrive, and it eliminates any decision fatigue/anxiety. Plus it gets you anticipating your meal and that is half of the enjoyment!
If you have any say over the venue, suggest a few that work for you. Don’t be embarrassed to speak up – people have always enjoyed the healthier/veganish places I suggest.
Eat a little bit before you get there. Don’t stuff yourself, but try having some water, nuts or fruit so you aren’t ravenous. This will help you to resist the bread basket, and to make sure your willpower is strong.
Focus on vegetables. If there is nothing on the menu that works for my dietary habits, I just ask them to do me a plate of grilled vegetables. I pair this with a salad and I am usually very happy with this.
Opt for grilled, steamed, broiled, boiled, roasted, baked or poached over fried or sautéed. Avoid anything breaded.
If you are eating family style then make an effort to fill your plate mostly with vegetables first. Fill up on the healthier stuff first.
Engage with the conversation! Make sure to not be completely focused on what you are eating. You are there with company, so enjoy it and make the most of it.
If there is something you just have to have, then adjust your other courses accordingly. If you really want a desert, eat a lighter main. If you are really after something decadent for your main, then opt out on desert. Really be present for the delicious flavors, and eat mindfully. This is a treat, so enjoy it!
Eating out doesn’t have to be a stressful, healthy habit buster. With a little research (and who doesn’t love reading yelp reviews!) you can make sure that you eat a delicious meal, and experience the social joys of eating out. The days of ordering side salads while eyeing the breadbasket are over!