There’s nothing like enjoying a good meal out with your friends, but it’s easy to sabotage your healthy eating habits if you order too many plates of nachos at happy hour.
Luckily, you don’t have to skip out on girl’s night just because you’re trying to eat better. With the right choices, you can still have a delicious meal without worrying about your clean-eating regimen falling to the wayside.
Keep these five times in mind the next time you eat out.
Watch out for the Bread
The bread basket is definitely tasty and can stave off that initial pang of hunger, but white bread has no nutritional value, so you’re better off waiting for your meal or ordering a small salad. If you order a sandwich, ask your server about how the bread is prepared. “Some restaurants will butter a bun or bread for a sandwich, which can easily add several hundred calories,” says Allison Stowell, MS, RD, CDN. “If so, be sure the kitchen leaves the bun ‘au naturel.'”
Order off the Appetizer Menu
There’s no need to leave the restaurant feeling overstuffed because you devoured your full entree. “It may not seem like you are getting as much for your money, but ordering off the appetizer menu is likely to ensure that you aren’t served a gigantic portion,” says Stowell.
Look for Key Words
“‘Grilled,’ ‘sautéed,’ ‘steamed,’ ‘tossed,’ ‘drizzled,’ ‘lightly’ — these are the words to look for when trying to select a healthful dish,” says Stowell. Avoid foods that are fried or doused in heavy cream and sauces.
Stick to The “Rule of One”
When you go out to eat, you likely want your meal to feel special, so choosing the healthiest dish can easily suck the fun out of your evening. The solution: choose one aspect of your meal to truly indulge in without guilt. “Maybe that’s a dessert, maybe it’s some sweet cocktails, or maybe it’s a big bowl of Fettuccini Alfredo,” says certified nutrition coach Dr. Candice Seti. “Whatever it is, use the ‘Rule of One’ to keep yourself in check.”
Don’t be afraid to make little changes to your order to make the dish more healthy. Order your dressing on the side. Double your vegetable portion. Order steak — but hold the butter. “You may have heard these tips for years, but they are still relevant and effective for helping you make healthy choices when dining out,” says Stowell.
xx, The FabFitFun Team