Secrets To Healthy Dining Out

Pappas_ASocializing is a huge part of our everyday lives. Whether you’re taking a client to lunch, or spending the evening with friends, dining out is a way of celebrating good food and good people.

If you’re making a conscious effort to maintain your shape, dining out can be difficult. One night of major indulgence can throw you off and leave you feeling hopeless when it comes to your health.

It’s easy to become a social hermit when you start a diet or are making efforts to improve your health. Decadent food and alcohol aren’t exactly the cornerstones of a balanced diet. However, there’s no reason to avoid dining out altogether in the pursuit of your health. Implementing a few smart strategies before and during your meal can make dining out healthy and enjoyable.

Prepare Beforehand

It’s easy to get overwhelmed or caught up in conversation with your friends once you get to the restaurant. Almost every restaurant today publishes their menu online. Take a look at the restaurant menu on your computer or phone, and sort out the healthier options. You’ll be in a more focused state of mind where you can make a healthy decision on what to order. If the menu doesn’t have any healthy items, you may have time to suggest another restaurant with better alternatives.

Appetizer, Drink or Dessert

Listening to your hunger is a crucial concept when it comes to your health and well-being. However, distinguishing between your hunger and appetite is challenging with countless tempting options on the menu. Restricting yourself isn’t always the best option; sensibly enjoying an indulgent treat can be beneficial.

Instead of indulging in an appetizer, drink and dessert, choose one or two of these to enjoy. For example, try a glass of wine with your entrée, or enjoy a few bites of decadent dessert instead of having a creamy appetizer as well. Eating in moderation and sensibly enjoying your meal is imperative when dining out.

sweet-potatoes-742283_640Focus On Vegetables

Vegetables are a nutritious and water-based option that will fill you up during your meal. Try to make at least half of your plate vegetables, whether that’s steamed broccoli or a mixed salad. If you’re ordering a dip appetizer, ask the waiter if they can bring you some fresh-cut vegetables for dipping. Filling up on this nourishing food will save you calories and add a nutritional boost to your meal.

Browse The Buffet

Buffet-style dining can be extra challenging when it comes to our health; with several options in front of you, it can be hard to resist. Think of a buffet as a department store; when you go shopping, are you going to buy the entire store?

No; you’re going to browse a bit first and see what catches your eye. The same principles apply for eating at a buffet; browse the selections and see what options are available. Then, choose what looks best. Fill up your plate with what looks most appealing and give yourself a moderate portion of each item. Avoid going back for seconds, and enjoy your food slowly and reasonably.

Lighten Up The Booze

Don’t be fooled—those margaritas add up quicker than you may think. When it comes to alcohol, the clearer the better. Clearer alcohols such as vodka, gin, clear tequila, and light beer are easier on your stomach as compared to rum, whiskey, bourbon, or dark tequila. Avoid mixing liquors, and always add seltzer to water down your drink; you’ll get more volume and fewer calories this way without sacrificing flavor. If you’re drinking wine or beer, stick to one serving and try to sip on water throughout the evening regardless of what you’re drinking.

Incorporate a few of these strategies into your dining practices. Take a picture of this article on your phone, and review these strategies before you go out. Following these steps will help you find a balance between good health and a healthy social life.

PappasHeadsotStefani Pappas, CPT, CWMS is a nutritionist pursuing a career as a registered dietitian. She is a personal trainer, Equinox fitness instructor and contributing writer for Elite Daily. Visit for more information.

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Stefani Pappas Sassos
Long Island Weekly columnist Stefani Pappas, RDN, CPT, is a clinical dietitian at St. Francis Hospital. She also provides private and group nutrition counseling at her office in Great Neck. Visit Stef Health Tips for more information.

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