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As the summer is upon us many of us will be eating out more. Holidays usually involve eating out most days and lazy summer brunches and dinners with friends are one of the great pleasures of this time of year.

So how do you stay healthy when you eat out and what are the best choices to make when eating at a restaurant?

General Tips

  • The 75% rule. Eating out is to be enjoyed, so if you are going somewhere special have what you want. If you are eating out a lot though, try to make healthier choices about 75% of the time, you can afford to relax on the other 25%
  • Look at the menu on-line in advance and work out what you are going to have – you are more likely to make a sensible choice that way
  • Pretend to be veggie/vegan or to have a food intolerance – that way you can alter dishes without looking fussy!
  • Fill up on veg – always order at least 2 sides of green veg such as broccoli or spinach to fill you up with goodness
  • Avoid refined carbs – white breads, white rice, white pasta and sugary foods provide mainly energy with few nutrients so give these a miss
  • Don’t drink alcohol until you start eating, as this is the fastest way to see your good intentions melt away, especially when you are hungry!
  • Don’t arrive starving – have a small snack such as a piece of fruit before you go out, so you are not ravenous when you arrive, which will help you make sensible choices
  • Have 2 starters – if everyone if having two courses, you can have 2 starters instead of a starter and main to be sociable but without over-eating.
  • Suggest somewhere healthy – encourage friends to meet at a health food café for a change. See my suggestions below for ideas.

 

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Breakfast

  • Start with a fruit salad, as this will fill you up and provide vitamins, fibre and antioxidants. Fruit is much easier to digest before other food so should be eaten at the start of a meal.
  • Avocado on toast is another fantastic option full of healthy essential fats. Make sure the bread is wholegrain though.
  • Eggs are my number one recommendation for breakfast or brunch as they are filling, protein rich and nutritious. Poached and boiled eggs are the best.
  • Porridge is also a great choice, packed with energising B vitamins, fibre and minerals. It also keeps you full and balances your blood sugar levels. Avoid sugary toppings though.
 Pastries may be tempting but they will give you a sugar rush followed by a crash and will not keep you full for long. Unfortunately, they are mostly sugar and refined white flour, so are low on nutrients as well. Watch out for cereals and granolas too, which may sound healthy but are often high in added sugar.

Lunch

 

Salads and soups are way better than a sandwich, unless you can find one with healthy bread such as rye or wholegrain spelt. Normal bread, especially white breads like baguettes or ciabatta play havoc with blood sugar levels, can cause bloating and make you feel tired in the afternoon.

Look out for healthy grains – salads based on healthy grains such as barley, wild rice or quinoa are a filling and nutritious choice. Middle eastern foods such as hummus and falafel also make a great lunch option. 

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Dinner

 

Italian and European – pizza and pasta can be saved for your 25% (see above), due to their refined carbohydrate content. The healthier options are chicken or fish dishes with vegetables. Bean and vegetable soups are also great such as Tuscan bean soup or pasta e fagioli.

Japanese food can be healthy, teriyaki salmon is a great choice and soba (buckwheat) noodle dishes with veg and tofu or chicken are also brilliant. Sushi is also great but only if they make it with brown rice. Things to avoid are white rice, white noodles and deep fried foods like tempura.

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Indian food
can actually be very healthy, contrary to popular belief. Vegetable, chickpea or lentil curries are generally a very healthy choice. The things to avoid are the white rice, naan breads and heavy meat curries with creamy sauces. If you want meat, go for chicken, prawns or fish and a tomato-based sauce or dry curry such as tikka. The chilli in curries is great as it helps rev up metabolism and the other spices used are full of health-giving properties.
 

Some Healthy Restaurants in London


The Good Life Eatery, Chelsea & Marylebone
Favourite Dishes: Paleo Chestnut and Almond Waffles, with Chia Strawberry Jam, Coconut Yogurt and Strawberries. Everything here is healthy and delicious!

Le Pain Quotidien
Favourite Dishes: They have a great range of salads, soups, hummus platters and vegan dishes.

The Detox Kitchen does the best wheat, gluten, dairy and refined sugar free muffins ever and a range of beautiful salads and grains that vary daily.

The Retreat Café
Favourite dishes: Spelt English muffins with organic scrambled eggs and vegan sundried tomato pesto and rocket. Fantastic salads and delicious wheat, dairy and refined sugar free Banana Bread.