It might seem like having a life by going out with friends to restaurants and parties means that you have to totally give up on your plans to eat healthy. Or that in order to eat healthy, you have to give up the idea of having a social life altogether.
I am here to debunk those ideas and to show you some of my top tips for being able to have a life while eating healthy too 🙂
Mix up the Menu
There have been many times when I have opened up a menu and felt gut-wrenching disappointment. Nothing vegan, not even something vegetarian, not a thing that is gluten free….in those moments I feel like just packing up and going home.
What I have learnt, however, is that you can ask the wait staff to go and ask the chef if they can make you something special that is not on the menu. If they need some ideas, have a look at what vegetables and proteins are included in other dishes on the menu, and suggest they make something that uses a combination of those things.
You can also mix and match things in most cases. For example, a big breakfast at a cafe will usually include eggs and bacon with beans, potatoes or hash brown and a tomato. In this case I’d ask them to swap the eggs with mushrooms and the bacon with avocado, making a veg-friendly, healthier meal.
In my experience most places are happy oblige in doing this.
Keep it Simple
If you are trying to eat healthy and everything on the menu is fried or soaking in cream, avoid these and opt for a dairy-free soup with a salad. A small salad with beans/chickpeas/turkey/chicken, avocado and vegetables with a cup of good old-fashioned soup is fulfilling and much healthier than other options you might be considering. Almost all places will have soup and salad items on the menu.
Also consider getting a salad and then something from the side orders to fill you up. This is a way to have a smaller portion of something. There have been times when I have “built” myself a main by ordering several sides such as a side of sauteed greens with a side of mushrooms and a side of mashed potato to create a dish when there wasn’t anything else I could order off the menu.
Avoid Simple Carbohydrates
Try to avoid foods with gluten or simple starches like rice which are high on the glycemic index. See if you can have a sweet potato, brown rice or red potatoes instead of bread or white rice to fulfill your carbohydrate needs.
How to Choose the Healthiest Main
If you are stumped on what to order, then go for the salmon/chicken/fish/meat or just ask to have all veggies steamed or roasted. Go for extra veggies instead of any high glycemic carbs. Imagine your plate being 1/2 veggies, 1/4 good protein, 1/4 good carb (or more veggies and skip the carbs) with a healthy source of fat for a well-rounded restaurant meal.
Skip the extra sauces and dressings because they usually contain ingredients and extra sugars that our body does not need.
How to Choose the Healthiest Dessert
This can be the hardest temptation to avoid. Rather than ice-cream see if you can order a dairy-free sorbet, or even some fruit to satiate the after-main sweet craving. If you absolutely can’t resist, go halves or thirds in the sugary or dairy dish with someone else so you can have a taste but not eat the whole thing.
Something I do, is bring dark chocolate with me in my handbag, and I open that up and eat it instead of missing out because all the desserts contain dairy or such high sugar that they will make me feel gross. This little bit of forward thinking can really make for an enjoyable end of the night.
What to Always Avoid
Say NO CHEESE, because cheese tends to clog digestion and causes inflammation. It is not a healthy choice!
Coffee should always be consumed in moderation and stick to drip coffee or an Americano (espresso with hot water) with a natural sweetener and almond milk if the restaurant has it. In my coffee drinking days I was known to bring my own nut milk with me to places, as well as my own stevia, so I wouldn’t get caught out. I then started drinking black coffee, and now I just drink tea which is much better as it doesn’t need milk or sweetening. Tea is a great way to wean yourself off coffee and is much better for your overall well-being.
Also avoid processed, creamy sauces, dressings (getthese on the side or just ask for some olive oil and lemon juice), pancakes, French toast and pastries. If you really want some of these foods, order them as a side and split it with someone else at your table.
How to Manage Parties and Gatherings
You will also find yourself at parties and gatherings at other’s homes where you might not be catered for. If you know this will be the case, prepare your food at home first, and eat before you head out to the party. We often go to barbeques at friends’ houses and we bring our own food to share, just to make sure we have some food to also eat and enjoy too.
At parties where there are nibblies being served, be careful not to eat from every tray that is served. You might want to hold onto a clutch purse in one hand and a glass of water or juice in the other, as this makes it hard to reach for food every time. Also don’t stand near the food table.
Follow the 80-20 Rule
Most important of all- just do your best. There will be times when you are travelling that you won’t be able to eat as cleanly as you would like. Don’t let it ruin your holiday.
When it comes to healthy eating, I like to follow the 80-20 rule. Eat cleanly 80% of the time, and the other 20% just do the best you can. You don’t want to become a loner hermit who never goes out, but you also don’t want your social life to take over from your other plans to eat well, so find that healthy balance and follow moderation.
- What do you think of these tips? will they help you to stay healthy while socialising? Do you have any other tips to add?