I’ll be honest: I’m one of those people who’s kind of always on a diet. In the words of Regina George, “I really want to lose three pounds” (times four); but my problem is that I bloody LOVE food and going out for dinner and drinks is pretty much my main hobby in life. I wish it could be spinning, but alas.
So as we all know, when it comes to eating out, sticking to a healthy diet isn’t always the easiest thing to do. We don’t know how every meal is prepared, so even if we go for something that sounds healthy, we’re probably eating more salt, sat fats and all round calorie badness than we realise. HowevER, being on a diet doesn’t mean that you have to be that person always ordering a salad (aka the dinner bore). By making a few clever choices while eating out, you can still have something delicious (and Instagrammable – you care, don’t act like you don’t) without completely ruining your hard work.
Indian and Thai
Eating out at an Indian or Thai restuarant might scream indulgence and elasticated waistbands, but there are are actually some surpisingly healthy things to be found. Menus at Indian/Thai restaurants are typically filled with dishes that include lean cuts of meat or are completely veggie-based, so it’s really not all bad. However, if you’re on the healthy eating wagon then you need to avoid dishes prepared with high amounts of butter, cream, high-fat cheeses, and oil. Things like Paneer, Ghee, Samosas, and anything listed as Padoka tend to contain higher amounts of these ingredients, so if you’re chasing that three-pound weight loss, it’s best to avoid them. (Oh, and if you’re not familiar with certain dishes on the menu, just ask the waiter how they’re prepared, and give them a swerve if the above are mentioned.)
So what should you go for? Healthier dishes on Indian takeout menus that are lentil and chickpea-based tend to be higher in fibre and protein, and also don’t contain as much fat or oil as Paneer or Padoka items. Dishes labelled Chole or Dal are lentil-based and will leave you feeling satisfied, rather than weighed down. Also, lean grilled or kebab meats that are prepared Tandoori style are usually marinated with yogurt and fresh spices, making them a much healthier choice than deep fried Samosas and Butter Chicken covered in gravy (however much I love gravy, sob).
If you love Chinese food but don’t want the added calories, Thai restaurants have a lot of similar dishes that aren’t prepared with as much oil. Chinese Spring rolls, for example, are usually deep-fried and contain more oil than Thai Summer rolls. And seeing as spring rolls were made for dipping, it’s also worth choosig the healthiest sauces on offer – for example, Thai peanut sauce typically contains less sugar and fat than Chinese sweet and sour sauce.
So while Thai restaurants do have plenty of healthier options there are some things on the menu you should look to avoid. Anything that’s been made with ingredients like coconut milk, fatty beef, duck, and dark-meat chicken pieces are likely to have extra calories, so dishes like Musamun Curry and Coconut Shrimp Soup should be ate in moderation.
Pizza & Italian
On to my FAVOURITE thing in the WORLD: PIZZA. After a long day, a hard day, a good day – let’s face it, any day – it’s all too easy is it to cave in and go out for a pizza. It’s never going to be the healthiest choice for dinner, but rejoice! There are a few ways to do it healthily.
When creating your healthy(ish) pizza in a restaurant or via a takeaway menu, one of the first things to consider is the crust. A flatbread or thin crust will get you off to the best possible start (and say NO to that stuffed crust)(I’m sorry). Of course it’s not a pizza without the cheese, be try not to go overboard with it and order any extra portions. When it comes to your other toppings, you should also try to avoid overly-processed meats like pepperoni or sausage. Grilled meats like chicken and fresh vegetables can give you that same indulgent feeling without as many cals.
If you’re having starters, try to stay away from anything cheese-stuffed or topped, like cheesy garlic bread or mozzarella sticks. Instead, order something with fresher ingredients like tomato bruschetta. Salad can also a healthy starter to a meal and will help fill up your stomach faster, reducing the number of slices of pizza that you eat. Well, maybe…
I might have focused a lot on losing weight in this post, but of course there is a lot more to eating healthier than simply maintaining your weight. As this article from LiveStrong explains, healthy eating also prevents a variety of chronic diseases. So with so much at stake, it really is worth getting into the habit of making small changes every time you eat out. Instead of fries, have the side salad or steamed vegetables. And rather than fried chicken or fish, go for the steamed or grilled versions. Making a conscious choice to eat healthier is sometimes easier said than done, but with more and more of us becoming health-conscious, restaurants are luckily creating more options.
What are your tips for sticking to your diet while eating out? Let me know in the comments!