As you improve your eating habits, you may find that the biggest challenge is how to stay on track when you’re eating in restaurants. Here are a few tips so that you can enjoy the experience of eating out even if you’re on a gluten-free diet or doing a cleanse:
1. Recommend places to eat where you know they have healthy options and you’ll enjoy the food. For New Yorkers, there’s a great book called Clean Plates NYC that highlights healthy restaurants around the city.
2. Check the menu of the restaurant you’re going to in advance, and decide what you’re going to order before you arrive.
3. Feel free to call a restaurant in advance to make a special request.
4. If you’re ordering a salad, ask the server how big it is. If it’s big enough, you can have it as your meal. If not, you can ask for a double order of a salad, so you get a meal-sized portion.
5. There may be side dishes on the menu that are perfect! You could order 2-3 side dishes instead of an entree.
6. If you’re not having alcohol, try ordering a sparkling water a splash of cranberry juice and lots of fresh lime or lemon. A light drink option is a wine spritzer, with half white wine and half seltzer.
7. At the end of the day, no one else is going to remember or care what you ate for dinner, so do what works best for you.
8. Remember, not all of your socializing has to revolve around food – invite your friends to see live music, go to yoga, go for a walk or get tea.
9. Plan ahead and be positive!
I worked with one patient who started bringing his own gluten-free crackers out to dinner so that he would have something to eat while everyone else was digging into the bread bowl. Another woman would bring a square of high-quality dark chocolate to enjoy while others were having dessert. This may sound a bit extreme, but I loved that they were both being creative and making small adjustments so that they didn’t have to feel deprived and could enjoy dining out with friends.
If you have any other tips for eating in restaurants, please share them with the rest of us!