Meals bring people together. Whether we realize it or not, there’s something fantastic that happens over a shared table. There are proven mental and emotional health benefits to sitting down and sharing a meal around a table.

Most times though, we are not sharing a meal over our own dining table but at a hot new restaurant or a long-time local favorite haunt. When we’re out with friends it can be hard to keep up with our healthy eating habits, especially if we’re trying out somewhere new!

Going out with friends shouldn’t mean missing out on all sorts of delicious meals. Instead, with a little mindfulness and work, this is an opportunity to stay on track with your healthy eating habits. The five tips below start before you head out of the door, by helping you get your mind in the right state.

5 Tips to Keep Up Your Healthy Habits When Eating Out

1) Be honest with yourself.

Going out to eat is often a fun social activity, where you can bond with friends over all the great (or not so great) events of the week. Be honest about the possibility that on most occasions, you will be faced with the temptation of unhealthy options. Healthy eating habits begin with a healthy relationship with food. Acknowledge that it could be difficult when you go out to eat to choose something healthy. There are also ways to combat unhealthy options from the beginning.

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2) Choose wisely.

If you’re going out with friends, it’s important to make sure they know that you’re trying to eat healthily. This is key because when you are chatting about options, you can have some on the table (no pun intended) that will have a variety of healthy options.

It’s easy enough to look up menus and dishes through Google, Yelp, the restaurant’s own site or Instagram.  If you choose a restaurant with healthy or healthier options, it will make it easier for you to keep up with your healthy habits.

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3) Pick the seafood option.

If you’re not a vegetarian, choosing the seafood is one way to be mindful and eat healthily. According to Texas A&M University, there are several nutritional benefits to eating seafood including: “decreasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity and hypertension.” This is attributed to seafood being “low in saturated fat and higher in “heart healthful” polyunsaturated fat, including omega-3 fatty acids.” Of course, this only applies if you choose an item that isn’t deep fried in batter or soaked in butter!


4) Order a side…

of vegetables! The USDA recommends 2 ½ cups of vegetables for women aged 19-30 (3 cups for men). Often times you’ll order an entrée and it will come with a handful of sides as options.

It’s tempting to indulge with the fries but this is a great opportunity to choose a side to help maintain your healthy options. Instead of an unhealthier choice such as fries, choosing the side salad or a side of vegetables is great.

5) Replace options.

What if you ordered a dish that doesn’t come with a side salad or a vegetable option? All hope is not lost. You can still stay on track with your healthy eating goals. If you choose a meal and the side isn’t as healthy as you would like, substitute a side that aligns with your healthy eating goals. Most restaurants have a separate sides menu that will have a handful of vegetables for you to choose from.

These five tips are arranged the way they are for a specific reason. Healthy eating begins with being mindful of the things that we are putting in our body. Incorporating mindfulness can be simple as setting the intention so that you know what your goals are and how you will achieve them.

Before you are out of the door, you are already more aware. By being more aware, you can encourage yourself and others to seek and find healthy options. Once you’re out and faced with the unhealthy options, you have an escape hatch! Most importantly, if you’re out to eat and you happen to choose an option that isn’t as healthy as you would like, don’t worry! There is no need to dwell on one moment of weakness. Life is about balance and flexibility.

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