We know that it can be all too easy to forget good intentions about healthy eating and end up overindulging on the wrong foods. Here are some tips for making healthy choices when eating out:
- Choose fruit-based starters and desserts; these will contribute to your recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
- Choose wholemeal bread rolls over white for the extra fiber, which can improve digestion and may be protective against bowel cancer.
- Vegetable-based soups are a great option as they are filling and contain less fat than cream-based soups.
- Likewise, choose tomato-based sauces over cream-based ones; as well as containing less fat and calories, tomato sauces contain the antioxidant lycopene, which may help prevent prostate cancer. Men should aim to have seven or more portions of tomatoes or tomato-based foods per week.
- Choose fish — white fish is extremely low in fat and is a great source of protein, while oily fish provides omega-3 fatty acids — a ‘good’ type of oil which has been shown to help protect against heart disease and may help prevent other diseases such as cancer.
- Look at how the dish is cooked — go for grilled or baked foods over fried or roasted. A grilled lean steak can be an excellent choice, providing a rich source of protein and iron.
- Swap ice-cream for refreshing sorbet.
- Watch your alcohol intake — while one or two drinks a day may be beneficial to health and could help protect against heart disease and osteoporosis, any more than this can have the opposite effect. If you are watching your weight, it is worth noting that alcohol contains a substantial seven calories per gram (carbohydrates and protein both contain around four calories per gram) and also increases appetite.
- Slimmers should also try to stick to one or two courses and watch portion size — a study in the US found that portion sizes in food outlets had grown by up to 700 per cent in the last 30 years!
- Try not to add salt at the table — most foods will already have been seasoned in the kitchen. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure so aim to keep your intake under six grams a day.
- Always make sure you have a side order of vegetables or salad — more importantly, make sure you eat them!
If you’re still stuck for healthy eating inspiration, here are some examples of healthier options for when you’re eating out:
Go for a tomato-based pasta dish like penne arrabiata or puttanesca rather than a creamy carbonara.
Choose boiled rice over fried rice and opt for a stir fry or soup. There are also some delicious spicy noodle salads and grilled fish dishes out there to try.
Raw fish, boiled rice, noodle soup … almost everything in the Japanese kitchen can be considered ‘healthy’, so tuck in! Just go easy on the salty soy sauce.
Swap creamy kormas and fried pakoras for a tomato-based dansak or pathia. Add a lentil or chickpea dahl and opt for boiled rice or chapati rather than pilau rice.
Chargrilled dishes such as cajun spiced fish or fajitas are a good option. Avoid the soured cream and cheese but enjoy the guacamole and salsa.
Frequent consumption of fast food isn’t recommended, but if you have to go down this route, choose a plain hamburger or chicken kebab with salad.
Finally, if you feel that there is something indulgent on the menu that you simply cannot resist despite your best intentions, don’t be too hard on yourself. Denial in the extreme can lead to binging in the long run. Why not order one portion with two spoons? Half the portion means half the fat, sugar and calories — 'fancy sharing, anyone'?