Top Five Healthy Eating Out Tips During Menopause | Stella
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Our top five healthy eating out tips

byHolly Zoccolan

Nutritional health coach, Holly Zoccolan, who is also part of the Stella Care Team, has been supporting women for many years. One thing she’s often asked is, “What are your top healthy eating out tips?” The good news is there are steps you can take which mean you can dine out and enjoy your food without anxiety or guilt. Holly shares some ideas for you to try…

Being invited to a restaurant can feel daunting if you have made a choice to switch to a healthier way of eating. Faced with a menu full of tantilizing dishes and desserts can feel like torture when you are looking for healthy eating out choices, such as low sugar or managing portion sizes. Meals can be larger than you’d serve at home and once it is on your plate, it can be very difficult to hold back! We know, we’ve all been there.

Even though staying healthy when  eating out can feel like be a challenge, it needs to be part of your strategy to make sustainable change for the long-term. After all, eating out with friends and family is an important way to socialise, make deeper connections and lift your mood. I’ve put together five healthy eating out tips so you can feel more at ease about going out to a restaurant.

1. Scan the menu beforehand and plan

A little bit of advanced research that can help you frame your mind in the right way is the first of our healthy eating out tips. This prevents you falling into your usual choice pattern when rushing to decide at the restaurant. Instead, you can choose in advance and arrive with a plan.

Healthy options to choose when eating out 

When planning your healthy eating out choices, look for lean protein dishes with chicken, white fish or pulses, if vegetarian. Leaner cuts include chicken breast and, if you are going to choose red meat, sirloin or filet mignon. 

Lean protein is super handy as it helps you feel more satisfied, which can reduce cravings and mean you are less likely to want dessert (well, that is the idea in principle!). Also, opt for sides of vegetables to ensure you are getting a good amount of fibre and nutrients in your meal. 

Understanding meal descriptions

When scanning meal descriptions, look for these words to help keep you on track:

  • Grilled
  • Steamed
  • Baked
  • Braised
  • Seared

It may seem a little obvious, but it’s good to remind yourself to avoid dishes that have the following words in their descriptions:

  • Fried
  • Breaded
  • Crispy
  • Rich
  • Creamy
  • Cheesy
  • Loaded
  • Alfredo

2. Don’t starve before you go

This is an important healthy eating out tip and may be the total opposite of what you think you ought to do. So many women will go all day without breakfast and a scant lunch to “save up” calories for the evening. This is the very example of false accounting when it comes to nutrition. 

Remember, if you starve yourself before you head out for a meal, you’ll be more likely to indulge, overeat and choose the unhealthier alternatives as you are so hungry.

Keeping meals balanced

The best way to avoid the “Hungry Caterpillar” effect is to make sure you eat well-balanced meals before heading out. If you need a reminder, a good balanced meal includes:

  • Healthy fats like olives and avocado
  • A mixture of vegetables – try for the rainbow and get colourful
  • Lean proteins such as fish, chicken, black beans or lentils

Eating balanced meals prevents a food binge as they keep you satisfied, full and help stave off food cravings too.

3. Keep hydrated

Restaurant food often contains high levels of salt, which leaves you dehydrated and thirsty, which is often mistaken for hunger. It can also mean you have more of an appetite for alcohol too. So make sure you keep on drinking your water in the run-up before your meal.

What’s the right amount of water to drink?

  • Try to drink a large glass of water shortly before you go out 
  • Drink 2 litres of water a day in the days before your restaurant meal 

Can I drink alcohol and stay on track?

If you fancy an alcoholic drink and want the healthy option, order a long drink, such as a spritzer, and try to make sure you have it with your meal and not before your food arrives. 

If you drink on an empty stomach, your body will absorb the whole drink quickly. If you drink alcohol while eating, it isn’t absorbed as fast. Remember, when it comes to staying healthy when eating out, alcohol is better with food, rather than alone.

4. Ask for sauce on the side

From the menu description it can be hard to understand if there is sauce or how it will be presented. Sometimes, restaurants slather sauce over your meal even if it is a salad. Sauces tend to contain high amounts of sugar and will make your blood sugar spike and unleash the cravings. 

Talk to the restaurant staff

Before you order you can ask staff how the sauce arrives on the plate and if there is salad dressing. You can always ask for sauce on the side so you have control over how much, if any, of the sauce you add to your meal. Remember, it’s OK to ask for modifications to your meal to suit your nutritional needs.

Bring on the herbs and spices

Many of us are used to the tasty part of a meal being the sauce. Try tantalising your tastebuds with mixed herbs and spices instead, such as paprika or whatever you fancy. If you talk to the waitress, the chef may add them to your dish if you want to swerve the sauce.

It’s good to know that adding herbs and spices to your meal is a great way to add flavour without the added blood sugar spike and calories.

5. Fancy dessert? Share it!

Making healthy choices when eating out doesn’t mean you are banished to a life without pudding or cocktails. If you fancy dessert when you go out for dinner, this is absolutely fine. A great way to enjoy the taste without all the full load is to share a dessert with someone else – it is one of our favourite healthy eating out tips. Eating half a portion instead of the full portion is a win-win situation, just choose your co-sharer carefully so you get the full 50%!

Final word

Remember to enjoy yourself when dining out and give yourself permission to do so guilt-free. Life is about sharing memories and good times with those closest to us. A dessert or a few glasses of wine once in a while doesn’t throw you off track. Bon Appétit!

Find out more about menopause on our blog, or look at our symptoms library for more information on weight gain.