The Up and Up on Dining Out

There’s something about going out to eat that feels special. 

Maybe it’s the chance to eat something you don’t normally prepare at home.

It could be getting a change of scenery.

Or maybe it’s being able to order light and flaky grilled tilapia and not have your kitchen smell like fish for the next few days.

Whatever it is, going out to a restaurant can make a meal feel pretty special.

While eating delicious healthy meals at home is definitely what we want to aim to do most of the time, it’s nice to mix things up a little. And who says we can’t still enjoy tasty nutritious foods when we dine out?

Getting more nutrition when you go out to eat might seem like it’ll be restrictive and boring, but in reality, you don’t have to be restrictive at all! Here are 6 ways to continue your healthy habits when you dine out:

  1. Get in the right mindset
    • Before you put on your real pants to leave the house (yay jeans!), remind yourself that you’re allowed to enjoy your food. Healthy doesn’t always have to mean restrictive, and foods that are less nutritious shouldn’t make you feel guilty. 
  2. Eat mindfully
    • Since going out to eat can feel like such a treat, enjoy it to the fullest! By eating slowly and focusing on the tastes and textures of your meal, you’ll be better able to appreciate your meal to the fullest.
  3. Branch out of your comfort zone!
    • One of the biggest benefits of dining out is getting to eat foods we normally wouldn’t. This is the perfect time to try crispy Brussels sprouts topped with balsamic vinegar and fried onions!
    • If you don’t typically order from vegan or vegetarian menus, give it a try! Exploring different types of protein can expand your horizons and make you feel more confident about adding them to your regular meals. Plus, many vegan and vegetarian meals use veggies in different ways, so it’s worth it to give it a try!
    • This also goes for trying food from different cultures. There are so many amazing dishes from around the world that incorporate nutrient-rich ingredients. Get curious and find your next favorite dish!
  4. Customize your order.
    • If there’s an option to customize your order (and if it’s not too expensive to do so), see if there’s anything you’d like to add that might make the dish more nutritious. Add some mushrooms and spinach to your pizza, or ask your server if the spinach artichoke dip could have more spinach and artichoke and less cream, or if the pasta could be whole wheat.
  5. Check out which meals have the most vegetables.
    • While substituting fries or other fried sides for steamed veggies is definitely an option, you could also check out restaurants that have meals with zucchini noodles, veggie wraps, or even burrito bowls.
    • Including beans in your meal can be another way to get some plant-based nutrients. While they (and legumes) are part of the vegetable group, they also offer a lot of protein. It’s like a nutritional two-for-one special. Plus, they can jazz up so many different types of dishes from soups to salads!

Here are some tips on how to save your leftovers and bulk them up with nutritious food:

Who doesn’t love taking the takeout container out of the fridge and heating up the delicious goodness inside? And if you don’t have many leftovers, you can bulk up what you do have by pairing it with something nutritious and tasty. 

Example: Those carne asada tacos were delicious- and they’d transfer well to a bowl of mixed greens! Just add a few more cherry tomatoes, a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, and a little more salsa, and you’ve got something beautiful.If your leftovers don’t reheat well…

And if your leftovers don’t reheat well, you can “revive” them with something that allows them to steam while they warm up.

Example: Rice is delicious. Cold rice that has molded to the shape of its take-out container needs a little help. Revive leftover rice or pasta the next day by sauteing them and tossing them with some vegetables. 

Healthy eating when dining out doesn’t have to be tricky or leave you unsatisfied. With a little creativity and mindfulness, you can discover a whole new way to enjoy your favorite takeout. 

Learn more about how you can have your restaurant meal and eat it too!