I´ve been in New York for over ten days now and as one does in New York, I´ve been eating out a lot! I get so excited by the wide range of choice on offer here that I eat out at nearly every meal. I´ll most often grab a smoothie bowl to eat at home for breakfast but then go out and explore a new restaurant for lunch & dinner.
I used to think that eating out was the perfect excuse to eat unhealthy and to “cheat” but actually I have no desire for that anymore since I realized that eating crap makes me feel like crap!
So how do I go about eating healthy when eating out?
1) First of all, I choose the restaurant wisely based on the menu I see outside or online. If I´m invited by someone else, I´ll check out the menu in advance and unless it´s a pizza & pasta only place, I´ll most often find something on there that I like & that I´m happy to eat.
2) I send back the bread basket. I used to love bread and the only way I managed to get off it was to no longer have it in front of me. There´s nothing in bread that we really need and eating it will just fill you up with empty calories and cause a surge in blood sugar levels which will leave you craving for more. The only way is the radical way. Get rid of it.
3) I order water and drink 1 or 2 cups before the meal arrives. This way I make sure I´m not confusing my thirst with my hunger which prevents me from overeating.
4) If I´m “trying to be healthy” I´ll avoid alcohol all together but otherwise I will generally have one drink. I rarely have more but on the rare occasions that I do, I´ll make sure to alternate each glass with water to avoid getting dehydrated (yes alcohol is dehydrating – drinking water is also a sure way to avoid a hangover!)
5) If I have a starter, I´ll either go for something that is mainly vegetables or some sort of fish tartar or carpaccio.
6) When choosing my main course, I´ll identify what protein I´m going to have first. I´ll either have chicken, meat, fish, seafood or a vegan source of protein like lentils, quinoa or chickpeas.
7) I´ll go for something that is preferably grilled or steamed and avoid any foods that are deep fried.
8) I´ll skip the starches and double up on the vegetables instead. So for example if the fish I´ve chosen comes with rice or potatoes, I´ll ask them to be replaced with green beans, broccoli or whatever vegetable is in season instead. I aim to fill at least half of my plate with a colorful range of seasonal vegetables. Sometimes this means ordering an extra side of vegetables as well.
9) I stay away from pasta, potatoes & fries. These are nutritionally poor and don´t bring anything but empty calories, a surge in blood sugar levels and something for your body to burn instead of fat.
10) If I can, I´ll skip dessert and opt for a fresh mint tea instead. If I´m craving something sweet I´ll ask for some fresh berries or a scoop of sorbet. Berries are full of vitamins & antioxidants and are low in sugar. Sorbet is a healthier version to ice cream as it contains some vitamins from the fruit, no diary and often less sugar! If there is a flourless chocolate cake on the menu I have no other choice but to have it. This & coconut sorbet are my guilty pleasures.
11) I try to eat slowly and stop eating when I´m gently satisfied, around 80% full. I´m not very good at this since I love food so much but I always try to remember that this will not be my last meal and that it´s worth keeping room for the next one!