The beautiful city of Sebastian may be known for being a small, quiet town, but it has a wide variety of options for dining out. Sushi, Thai, Italian, Mexican, BBQ, Seafood, Cuban, All-American… whatever you’re craving, you are sure to find a restaurant that fills the need. And, with many different cuisine choices comes a long list of breakfast, lunch, and dinner specials to tempt your palate and your wallet.
When it’s so easy to feast on such yummy goodness, sticking with a healthy eating plan can sometimes be challenging. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to choose one over the other. It’s not impossible to enjoy a meal out with friends AND stay on track with your health. Just implement some of these simple tricks.
Decide what you’re eating before you go
If you know the restaurant ahead of time, browse the menu before your visit and decide what you will order. Planning to indulge in that one meal will help you choose healthier meals throughout that day. So, go ahead and order the steak or the burger, knowing you had a salad for lunch.
Select the lighter fare
Most restaurants have lower calorie and lower sodium selections marked in their menus. Choosing one of these will help you stay on track. You can also ask for lower calorie substitutions for sides. For instance, order a side salad or steamed veggies instead of fries. If you need help making lighter fare selections ask your server or chef for suggestions. They know the food better than anyone.
Keep it on the side
When choosing a dish with a lot of sauce or dressing, ask your server to put it on the side. Drowning your chicken in a cream sauce may be enticing, but it adds a lot of calories to an otherwise healthy plate.
Having it on the side allows you to enjoy the flavors of both the chicken and the creamy goodness. The same goes for salads. It may make you feel better ordering that salad, but if the dressing makes the greens soggy, you could have just ordered the burger.
Take it home
Most restaurants are very generous with their portion sizes. Mom always said, “Clean your plate,” but you don’t have to eat everything in front of you.
Instead, plan to take some of your meal home to enjoy at another time. When your food is served ask for a “to-go” container and put half your meal in there before you begin eating. It will help keep your portion to a reasonable size and reduce the tendency to eat just because it’s sitting there.
Hold the fat and seasoning
Did you know that most “grilled” items are cooked in butter or some other
form of fat to add flavor? When ordering these “good-for-you” items, ask the chef to skip the fat while cooking. It will drastically cut the number of calories in the dish.
You can do the same with seasonings. If you’re on a lower sodium eating plan, request half the salt and seasonings normally used or cut it out altogether. Most restaurants are more than willing to cater to their customer’s special dietary needs. All you have to do is ask.
A delicious meal out brings family and friends together for conversations, laughter, and memory-making. Deciding to eat healthier doesn’t mean you have to give up any of that.
Take a little bit of time to think about what you’re eating and enjoy the freedom it gives you to focus on what truly matters. And if you see me dining out in this diverse town, feel free to say “Hello!”.