Nutrition

Making Healthy Choices while Dining Out or at Social Gatherings

May 25, 2022

Making a healthy choice when heavily influenced by others or food is something people often struggle with. 

These are some tips and strategies to apply in any social setting to still have fun and socialize while staying on track with your health and fitness goals. 

If you arrive to the restaurant or gathering, you’re more likely to overeat. So don’t skip meals and wind-up starving by the time you’re ready to eat. Instead, have a smaller meal or snack beforehand. 

A few good options might be a smoothie, some fruit & nuts, veggies, and dip, or a yogurt parfait cup.

Another tip is to try to get your workout in beforehand. A good weightlifting session will use the extra calories in the recovery process, making them less likely stored as fat.

Additionally, another simple tip is to drink your water. Studies show people who drank 500ml of water before a meal ate fewer calories and lost 44% more weight than people who didn’t.

Why? Because often, when we feel hungry, the reality is that we are thirsty. 

Drinking extra water before eating will fill your stomach and help keep your appetite in check. 

Finally, Read the menu before you go and have a plan. The sight and smell of food can make sticking to a plan more difficult, especially if you’re hungry. Choosing your food before you arrive makes it easier to avoid impulse decisions that you might regret later. 

Now we’ll go over some helpful tips and hacks when choosing what to eat.

First, be sure to check how your food is cooked and prepared.

Essentially we want to look for words like baked, grilled, steamed, or barbequed. Generally, these cooking methods equate to less fat and fewer calories.

Avoid foods described as pan-fried, deep-fried, crispy, or crunchy and sauteed, as these will typically be higher in fats and calories. 

Generally, a simple strategy is to fill your plate with would typically include lean protein, vegetables (a complex carbohydrate), and a small serving of healthy fats.  

For example, chicken or salmon, baked potato or rice, steamed broccoli, or asparagus. This will provide you with a nutrient-dense meal that satisfies you without consuming as many calories.

When dining out, you can ask your server to modify your order.  Many people have food allergies and intolerances, and restaurants are well prepared to accommodate these needs. 

For example: 

  • You can swap mashed potatoes for an extra serving of vegetables. 
  • You can pick items from several different main dishes and build your meal. 
  • You can ask for no butter or oil or have a burger but drop the bun. 

The possibilities are endless. 

A few tips that can save you hundreds of calories are: 

  • Be selective with your dressings and sauces and ask for them on the side. One tablespoon of mayo, ranch, creamy chipotle, or caser dressing has approximately a hundred calories. A better alternative is to choose lighter vinaigrette-based sauces. 
  • Ask for sauces and condiments on the side and use half of the portion.
  • And, avoid sugar-sweetened drinks such as juices and pop or coffee with heavy cream and sugar.

Also, be mindful that alcohol calories can add up quickly. 

For example:

  • One cup of red wine has approximately 230 calories. 
  • An 8-ounce glass of orange juice has 102 Calories.
  • A large double-double has a whopping 270 calories.

One fact that I found shocking is that restaurant entrees can be as high as 1500 calories. So, don’t be afraid to share your meal or eat until you are satisfied and pack the rest up to take it home with you. 

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where there simply aren’t any healthy options. 

Perhaps it’s only pizza, cake, and coca-cola. In this instance, drink lots of water before and with your meal, eat mindfully and chew slowly to give your satiety signals some time to kick in. 

Gatherings and dining out are a vital part of our social wellness. Get out, socialize, have fun, and stay on track with your health and fitness goals, using the tips and strategies that we’ve shared with you.

Book a call with our Wellness Coordinator to learn more