Dining out Do’s
Communicate Your Needs:
When you’re making dinner plans, don’t be shy. Pick a restaurant that will work for your eating plan. Let your friends know that you have to be careful with the foods you’re putting in your body. Tell them right away that fast food and buffets are just not on the table for you. Be prepared to answer questions, and follow them up with your own suggestions. Try not to sound critical or self-righteous—remember that some will be more sensitive than others.
Find Common Ground! Pick a Restaurant Everyone Likes:
- Seafood: Cod, scallops, shrimp, and crab (not imitation!) are among the lower calorie fish. Load up on the veggies. Watch the sauces! Try and choose low-fat sauces like mustard, cocktail sauce, lemon juice, horseradish, wine, garlic, spicy tomato, or just have it grilled dry. Seafood broth makes a great dip over butter for crab and lobster. Try that!
- Burgers: Pick a place that uses good quality beef (research!). Call ahead and see if they make homemade veggie burgers. Toss the bun and ask them to wrap your burger in lettuce or on top of a bed of greens.
- Italian: Not all Italian consists of pizza and pasta. Find an Italian restaurant that has a selection of protein entrees with a side of roasted veggies. Most Italian restaurants have an array of things to choose from like grilled fish and chicken dishes. Choose sauces like tomato, red clam, or marinara over the heavier options like alfredo, butter, or pesto. Say no to bread and yes to mixed green/tossed salad (no antipasto or Caesar-these are drenched in fat)!
- Thai: Thai restaurants usually have plenty of dairy-free and gluten-free options. If there’s a vegan in your group, they’ll love Thai. You can’t go wrong with the chicken and veggie green curry with brown rice.
- Sushi: Instead of white rice, ask for brown or black rice—don’t knock it til you try it! Skip the spicy mayo and teriyaki, and choose the low sodium soy sauce instead (just ask for it). Avocado is a nice alternative to cream cheese. Be sure to ask about the crab—more than likely it’s imitation. Choose salmon, shrimp, or eel. When in doubt, always ask! Servers in sushi restaurants are always prepared to be bombarded with questions. You won’t be the only one.
- Mexican: Allow yourself a certain number of chips and salsa, and then STOP. Push the basket away from you—have the server take them away. I bet your friends follow your lead. Salsa is a great dip or substitute for dressing. Choose guacamole over sour cream; it’s high in unsaturated fats. If you order taco salad, skip the taco shell bowl. Choose chicken or shrimp instead of the ground beef. Skip the fried entrees. Lighten up on the cheese. Choose beans over the rice (high in carbs).
If you’re afraid of being a pest and holding up your server and friends with questions, read the menu online beforehand and call the restaurant with questions. It can’t hurt to navigate through the ingredients before you go, in order to stay true to your own lifestyle and avoid uncomfortable/annoying scenes at the same time.
While we all hate being under the microscope, remember that living in health can also be contagious. When your friends are genuinely interested in what you’re doing to look and feel so great, set up a day and time for some one-on-one conversation. From there, you can share your new ways and refer them to Forum Health. Just think how much easier dining out will be when you’re all living in health!