Eating out the healthy way


If watching your waistline is taking the fun out of eating out, then follow these tips for guilt-free dining.

It can be all too easy to put off the start of your healthy eating regime until after your best friend’s birthday, or work-night-out, mistakenly thinking that a restaurant dinner will wreak havoc with your diet.

But eating out doesn’t have to spell disaster to your best intentions. With a little know-how it’s possible to enjoy a busy social life whilst sticking to your diet.

Follow these steps and get your social life back on track, without piling on the kilos.

1. Learn to swap

You can still enjoy your favourite dishes by knowing how to make some healthy adjustments. If you enjoy a coffee at the end of a meal, ask for skim milk rather than full-fat: a large coffee with skim milk has around 520 kilojoules while a large coffee on full cream milk has 1000 kilojoules. Choose margarine instead of butter, and wholemeal bread instead of white. Part of the skill is in knowing what to choose, so try swapping toasted muesli for untoasted Bircher; rib eye steak or ribs for tenderloin, club or sirloin; and scrambled eggs for poached. Switch calorie-laden desserts for sorbets, yoghurts or fruit, and ask for mineral water rather than diet-coke.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask

There’s no harm in asking the waiter or chef to make adjustments to your meal, and more often than not they will be happy to oblige. So don’t be afraid to ask for your meal with no fries or butter and for the sauce to be served on the side. A coating of hollandaise on your poached eggs can add over 1000 kilojoules to your meal – equivalent to around five rashers of bacon!

3. Portion-control

It’s important not to starve yourself in anticipation of a night out. Not only will this harm the body’s ability to get back in touch with its natural feelings of hunger and fullness, it can also lead you to overindulge when at the restaurant. Try drinking a glass of water before your meal. Research suggests that those who consume one to two glasses of water before each meal consume fewer total calories and lose more weight than those who skipped the water. If you’re still concerned about your portion size, try ordering two entrées instead of an entrée and a main, or ask for your main course to be down-sized.

4. Keep alcohol in check

It’s possible to halve the total energy consumed in a meal by watching your alcohol intake. Drinking a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink will slow you down and keep you hydrated. Another good option is to choose soda and lime or soda, lemon, lime and bitters with your spirits instead of soft drink or juice.

5. Education

You’re more likely to come out of a night with your diet in tact if you know the terms to look out for. A dish laden with veggies may sound healthy, but if they’re drenched in a creamy sauce or deep fat fried then you’ll be wise to steer clear. Choose dishes that are steamed, grilled, boiled, roasted, baked, poached, stir-fried, fresh, lightly sautéed or that have a tomato base over those that are fried, cheesy, creamy, buttery or come laden in mayo’ or hollandaise.