One of the best ways to stay healthy is to cook your own meals. However, while eating away from home may seem challenging, it doesn't have to sabotage your healthy diet. Dr. Mercola says, "If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail", so think ahead when you are going to be eating out and make a plan.
First of all, research shows that arriving at a restaurant, dinner, or social event already feeling satisfied instead of hungry helps us to make better choices, so be sure to keep to your healthy routine of regular meals and snacks throughout the day.
In addition, here are some more tips for dining in restaurants, eating on the go, and for holidays and special events.
"Be clear about your needs and do not accept any food that does not nourish or support you. Do not assume you are being impolite; you are simply taking care of yourself."
~ Dr. Mark Hyman
- Begin by consciously choosing a restaurant where you know there will be healthier options. Most restaurants post their menus (or a sample) on-line so you can see if there is something that will work for you. I usually arrive at the restaurant with something already in mind so I am not swayed “in the moment” by unhealthy choices.
- Start out with a nice, big glass of lemon water. Just ask for lemon – every restaurant has it! Not only is it extremely refreshing, it is very alkalizing to the body and that helps us stay on track better with our menu choices. AND it increases Hydrochloric acid which helps us digest our food better.
- Skip the alcohol and order sparkling mineral water with a twist of lime or lemon.
- Remove the bread basket or, if others are indulging, move it AWAY from your place setting! Want an appetizer – ask for raw cut up veggies –and no dip unless they have humus or something similar.
- Order a salad – you can never get too many greens and veggies. Be sure that the ingredients are actually healthy, and always ask for lemon and olive oil to dress your own salad. Most prepared dressings have sugar, dairy, gluten, and/or unhealthy oils in them!
- If you’re an omnivore, order fresh fish or chicken. Ask for it baked, lightly sautéed, roasted, or grilled in lemon and olive oil or something similar. Say no to sauces - again, they usually have sugar, alcohol, dairy, gluten, and/or unhealthy oils in them! Don’t be afraid to ask for food prepared the way you want it. Most good quality restaurants are fine with your requesting this and sometimes the chefs will get creative with spices and come up with something quite wonderful!
- If you’re a vegetarian, order a vegetable platter or a grain (like brown rice or quinoa) and vegetables. Most good quality restaurants have an assortment of fresh vegetables. If they serve only white rice, then pass – your body will metabolize it as sugar!
- Remember to try to eat a “balanced meal” – a small serving of protein (the size of the palm of your hand), a similar amount of starch, and the rest veggies. (If they serve you more than that, ask for a “to-go” container immediately and transfer the excess to take home.)
- Skip dessert, unless they have some fresh fruit. Order herbal tea, relax, and feel good that you took care of yourself and ate healthy!
Eating On The Go:
Buy a good quality, small cooler that you can keep in your car to take to work or on trips. If you are going on a road trip, pack a lunch and snacks to eat in the car or at a rest stop. If you are just going to be out of the house for the day, at work for example, pack a healthy lunch and snacks to eat on breaks and your lunch period.
Here are some snack ideas that you can carry with you:
- Raw nuts – almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, etc.
- Raw carrots, celery, apples, oranges, etc.
- Small container of humus.
- Hard boiled eggs
- Cans of wild salmon or sardines.
- A container of chickpeas with olive oil, lemon, herbs, salt & pepper.
- Homemade cookies or bars made with dried fruits, nuts & seeds.
- Pure water in a BPA free container.
Holidays & Special Events:
- Let your host know your dietary needs.
- Eat a small protein based meal before the event.
- Bring your cooler with snacks in it as a back-up in case there is nothing you can eat. You can always eat more later.
Just relax and do the best you can. If all of the previous tips fail in helping you stay on track and you end up over-indulging, don't fret. The most important thing you can do at this point is let it go, hop back on the wagon, and move forward.
If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to subscribe below to my weekly newsletter/blogs for more education, inspiration, and recipes to support optimal health. Feel free to email me or post a comment below to ask questions or share your thoughts and experiences ~ I’d love to hear from you!
Happy, Healthy Living!
JoAnn Newton is a Holistic Nutrition Educator and Master Massage Therapist with a private practice in Graton, CA.
Passionate about helping people transform their health through holistic nutrition, she facilitates the 23 day online Nutritional E-Cleanse Program seasonally with coaching, compassion, and humor.