Making better choices away from home greatly benefits your health and body.
Whether dining out with friends, traveling for work or on the road for vacation, it can be challenging to find convenient food options that keep you energized and satisfied. Use these tips to stay healthy even when you eat out.
1. Plan Ahead
Set-up for success by viewing menus ahead of time. Pick healthier options before you arrive to make it easier to avoid snap decisions you might regret later. If you know you can’t resist pasta or dessert, designate your dining out experience as a “cheat” meal.
2. Stay Hydrated
Sometimes you can think you’re hungry, when you’re actually thirsty. Hydrate before you eat to replenish your body and also prevent overeating. Stick with water as your main beverage. Simple, minimal-ingredient beverages such as sparkling water, unsweetened tea and kombucha are also healthy options. Add lemon wedges or sliced cucumber for variety. Limit caffeine intake to 2 cups daily. Ditch dairy creamers and add unsweetened coconut, almond, oat or hemp milk. Add raw honey or stevia if sweetness is desired.
3. Choose Whole Foods
Strive for natural whole foods over man-made processed products. Whole, single-ingredient foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts are high in nutrients that support health. In contrast, processed foods, such as bread, pasta, tortillas, and chips. The less refined a food is, the more it will benefit your body.
4. Go For the Greens
Eating vegetables leaves less room for refined carbs such as bread, pasta, chips, and french fries. Go for colorful veggies first, such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus, red peppers, and carrots. Starchy veg, such as red potatoes and sweet potatoes, can be healthier alternatives to refined carbohydrates such as pasta, bread and chips. Boost nutrients by choosing salads and lettuce wraps. If you can’t resist bread, select sourdough or “sprouted” varieties and make it a half sandwich.
5. Get the Right Fat
Choose natural fats such as avocados, butter, olives, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. Fats can reduce appetite and keep you full long after you eat. Most restaurant sauces and dressings, especially “low-fat” ones, have added sugar. Ask for dips and dressings on the side. Olive oil and vinegar can be a great alternative to sugary dressings. Lastly, this goes without saying, but avoid anything fried or deep-fried.
6. Swap Your Salt
Pack a little baggie of sea salt and order your food unsalted. Table salt contains sodium and chloride with aluminum anti-caking agents, bleach and other harmful additives. Having the opposite effect of table salt, sea salt contains 84 minerals and trace elements as nature intended. Dulse or kelp seaweed flakes are another great alternative with a rich mineral content.
7. Learn to Lemonize
Add fresh lemon juice to water, tea, salads, chicken, fish, and veg for extra flavor. Lemons support weight loss, improve digestion, aid detoxification, and provide a decent amount of vitamin C and potassium.
8. Eat More Mindfully
When you improve how you eat, you’ll naturally improve what you eat. Practice pausing and putting your utensils down in between bites. Engage your senses to savor all of the aromas and flavors of your meal. This will help you stay more present and allows you to fully chew your food before reaching for more. It’s this combination of awareness and small changes that produce the most effective results.
9. Strategize Your Splurges
Either plan two cheat meals a week to indulge or abide by a three-bite rule. The three-bite rule is exactly as it sounds, enjoy three bites and call it quits. Make your cheat meal special by taking your time, savoring each bite, and letting go of any guilty feelings. Food is more than fuel. Allow yourself to nourish your body, have fun and be social.
10. Choose Better Booze
Nix most mixed drinks and beware specialty cocktails that sound like desserts in a glass. Opt for healthier libations made from simple ingredients such as wine, lite beer or a spirit straight-up. Choose natural sweeteners like raw honey, stevia, fruit or 100 percent fruit juice. Pinot Noir is top shelf as it contains decent amounts of the anti-aging antioxidant resveratrol.
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Wellness Coach, Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner,