For most of us, when we go out with friends, we want to enjoy ourselves.  Sure, while making dinner at home and packing a lunch box for work, we can quite focus on the health and nutrition, whereas foods at restaurants tend to be indulged.

Many readers are very health-conscious.  They preach various methods (such as Atkin’s diet, gluten-free option, work out regiments) to get an edge in staying healthy, losing weight or staying in shape.  Some may even have social circles with friends sharing the same goals.

I’ve seen many people who want to try to be the health fanatics and change their habits but fail because they are not working with their own psychology.  Recently, I was reading a post on quitting diet soda: The writer was able to successfully quit diet soda because she understood she needed a way to quit while still can enjoy the alternative habit.

First and foremost, when going out to eat at restaurants, we definitely wish to ENJOY.  Now think about all the progress to stay healthy… (ugh…)

Let’s try to stop this stressful dilemma now.  Yes, just follow these few tricks to create a win-win situation.

Here are some tips on what you should try starting with your next outing with your friends.

1. Work with your companions

Who are you eating with?  Ask your friends to see their wishful lifestyle.  Maybe your friends wish to be health-conscious too.  If so, figuring out healthy choices for dinner can be the new interest in common.  Have fun in choosing where to eat, reading reviews, selecting dishes, sharing foods together, counting calories.  If that’s your thing, go for it.  As long as this is enjoyed by all involved, why not?  But what if your friends don’t care or are against it? Don’t worry, read the next tip.

2. Choose the right kind of cuisine

Japanese restaurant food, for example, is generally accepted as healthier.  See a list of better-for-you cuisines.  Avoid cuisines that cook with lots of oil, animal fat, and cheese.  If you like Chinese food, avoid Cantonese food which most dishes are cooked with lots of oil.  Restaurants serving food in Shanghai style and Peking style will have more lower-fat options.  If it is possible to come to a few consensual choices as to where to eat, you can pick the healthier choice.  What if your friends really prefer the less healthy choices?  No stress yet, try the next tip.

3. Talk more

Most people know this: eating fast makes you overeat.  Often people are used to eating fast.  Maybe they are brought up that way.  Maybe they look at it as a competition.  Sorry, but maybe it’s good to change your “habit”.  This is easy but magical!! You don’t need to think about whether or not this food will make you gain weight.  All you have to do is chill and enjoy your evening out with your friends.  In between each bite, spend more time talking with them and sharing stories.  The more time spent being engaged in conversations, the less likely you will overeat due to eating too fast.

4. Plan your dessert from the beginning

Western restaurants do a very smart thing.  They don’t show you the dessert menu until the very end.  Then the good waiter politely comes to you with the beautifully packaged dessert menu and asks you to choose.  Are you going to be able to say “I’m not having any”, even if you know you are over your quota at this point?  To avoid this dilemma, always try to research ahead.

Nowadays, many restaurants have their menus posted online.  Read through it and plan ahead before ordering starter and entrée. Try to reduce other portions to leave room for the dessert.  For example, order starters for sharing so that you can eat together with your friends instead of one starter per person.  Alternatively, order a small portion of the main course if option available.

5. Order a glass of water, if you are getting a soda or an alcoholic drink

Obviously, most sources tell you soda and beer give you empty calories (i.e. calories that give no nutrient), and you should avoid it.  Maybe it’s an addicted habit.  Or maybe it’s “impossible” to do because it’s more socially acceptable to have a beer or other alcoholic drinks during the occasion.  If you order a soda or an alcoholic drink, always also remember to get a glass of water.  Drink the soda or alcohol just to enjoy, but not for anything else.  If you are thirsty, then have a sip of water.  If the food is too salty, then drink more water.  Always save the soda and alcohol for pure enjoyment.

Is the info helpful?  What’s your dining-out experience as a healthy eater?  I would love to hear from you.


With love,

Cecilia Or 

Always Remember Why Inc.

Always Remember W.H.Y.

Be Well, Be Happy, Be You