How-to guide: Eating Out

No man (or woman) is an island. So, just because you’ve changed your life through better eating choices, don’t let yourself become that friend who won’t eat out anymore because of the ‘diet’. Here are our top ten tips to get you through your next dinner date.

1. Check out the menu online beforehand. Not only will this get you nice and hungry for the deliciousness that awaits you, you will get to see exactly what they offer without the rushed feeling of a waiter breathing down your neck while your friends all order.

2. Keep the bread and chip baskets away. So delicious, and yet so deadly… Even if you don't have a diagnosed gluten or grain sensitivity, or you know you're getting organic wheat or corn, this is a bowl full of empty calories and carbs, so don’t bother.

3. Ask for vegetables or a salad as a side, substitute, or starter. Most places will happily replace your fries with a salad or steamed veges, and they’ll be used to this request, so don’t feel bad about asking.

4. Have a healthy snack before you go. Have something small, healthy and satisfying such as fruit, nuts or a small protein shake before you go, just so that you’re comfortable in front of the bread basket.

5. Keep it simple. Delicious vegetables, lean meats and natural fats. Avoid dishes that sound covered in sauce or batters. Wouldn’t you rather an eye fillet than breaded schnitzel anyway?

6. Speak up for yourself. If you own a restaurant, you want loyal, satisfied customers. Become one of these customers by making sure your waiter knows that you have food preferences, and ask questions about the menu.

7. Look at the gluten-free menu. Generally, if a meal doesn’t have gluten in it, that is a step in the right direction.

8. Avoid salad dressings & check sauces. Normally filled with sugars, bad oils and trans fats. Ask for olive oil instead, and add some salt and pepper. This is still a delicious choice.

9. Support health-conscious restaurants. There are a growing number of restaurants that offer healthy, real food options. Support them with your business.

10. Do your best, then don't stress. Follow these tips, and then don’t worry. You can’t control everything, so let yourself have a great time.

Here are some suggestions for different restaurant types:

· Italian – One of the trickiest! Aim for salads, veal, chicken (the breadcrumbs are not a necessity), steak, or other meats.

· Japanese – A great cuisine when it comes to healthy choices. Think sashimi, salad, simple fish dishes, chicken, beef (just beware the sugar-laden sauces.)

· Thai – Curries with a coconut milk/cream base are perfect. Lamb and Thai salads are good choices too

· Mexican – Salads without the corn chips and plastic cheese, a naked burrito, carne asada or other delicious meat dishes will all satisfy that mexi-itch.

· Chinese – Stir-fries with no MSG, or roasted duck are going to be your best bet here – try to get them without sweet sauce

· Tapas – Seafood options and anything fresh sounding will work.

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