I love food and I love eating out, but a dream dinner invite can quickly turn to a nightmare for a person with food intolerances. There was a stage when accepting dinner invitations from friends caused me more anxiety than anticipation. I didn’t want to create a fuss, eat foods I shouldn’t, or even worse – not order anything off the menu! So I devised my own eating out strategy.
The best way to beat temptation is to surround yourself with suitable selections. Suggest to your dinner dates that you try an organic farm-to-fork restaurant, a fresh farmers’ market or a deli brimming with healthy bounty.
Choosing the restaurant myself when going out to dinner was a win win.
I didn’t feel embarrassed not being able to eat most things available on the menu, and they didn’t feel awkward as they were none the wiser.
Take the pressure off by eyeing out the online menu beforehand. Most restaurants display their menu on their websites, giving you a good chance to choose healthy without the distractions of chatter and the choices of other guests. If they don’t have their menu up, check their Facebook page for pics of the dishes or read a few reviews to get a feel for the food.
Often seafood and steak are pretty safe as they don’t need marinades like chicken might. So if you like these and spot them on the menu it’ll be pretty easy to order something suitable.
There’s no saying no to a hungry tummy. I try avoid shopping on an empty stomach, and although this may seem counterintuitive, I don’t dine out famished either. Having a protein rich snack before eating out can fill the hole and satiate the sugar cravings. Pumping up the protein keeps the blood sugar level from dipping which makes resisting bad choices so much easier.
Keep your treats confined to your plate rather than letting them loose in your glass too. If you can handle the social pressure, avoid alcohol and make water your drink of choice. Often that wine with dinner is an act of habit. So having something in a wine glass can actually give a very similar experience, minus the aggravating preservatives. Promise!
Fish needn’t always come with chips and calamari can be done differently to fried. Break the habit of what it means to treat yourself and treat your body right instead. “I deserve it” sound familiar? You deserve to feel great! The language we use in our minds can help with this one.
You could swap fries for a veggie side, an undressed salad or baked potato. Cut down the starchy carbs from rice, potato and bread and up your veggie intake instead. Go for healthier cooking methods like baked, boiled, grilled or poached.
Downsize your meal by taking another team member onboard. In our supersized world, portions are often much more than a mere mortal requires, but we all know how difficult it can be to resist what’s already in front of you. Split a dish with a friend or order a main and a salad to share.
Who says it has to be sweet? Were there two tasty starters you couldn’t decide between? Why not have one as your main and the other as your dessert.
Eating out is fun! But not so much when the payoff is spending the next day paying for it.
So use these successful dining strategies to prevent your food intolerances from butting into your social agenda.