A diet that’s abundant in lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and good fats is amazing - it helps us to feel bright, energised and on track in our day-to-day life. But the trouble with maintaining a healthy diet is that it’s not always easy (or fun) - especially when eating out!
At Kreol, we believe in balance, which means enjoying the occasional lunch or dinner out to celebrate a special occasion, or because you really couldn’t be bothered cooking. This doesn’t mean your entire regime needs to fall apart; it’s just about making the smartest decisions at the dinner table.
Here, our favourite nutritionist Steph Wearne of Body Good Foodshares her best tips for staying on track while dining out, and the healthiest menu items to look out for.
Any top tips for eating out when you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet?
The number one tip here is to go with the option on the menu that has the most fresh vegetables. Order a big serve of that for yourself and for other options, you can look at sharing or ordering a side serve to complement the veggies.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask your waiter exactly what is in the menu items and to ask for things like salad dressings, marinades and other condiments to be served on the side.
What are the major dishes to avoid, and sneaky menu items that seem healthy but aren’t?
Firstly, you want to avoid anything fried. The obvious ones here are fish and chips or tempura, but often restaurants will have sweet potato chips, zucchini fries or haloumi fritters which sound like a healthier option, but are often fried in highly refined oils.
Secondly, avoid any meals with minimal vegetables. Pastas, burgers, pizzas, sushi and so on might not seem that bad - until you look at the nutrition content of the meal! You can’t ever beat a meal full of vegetables, with smaller portions of carbs, proteins and healthy fats.
Can you tell us your ideal meal for the most popular cuisines?
Thai: Satay Salad or Tom Kha Soup. These are packed with vegetables and you can add your protein of choice.
Italian: I generally always go for the fish special when having Italian. I find this is usually quite a simple meal of fish, vegetables and maybe some potato or other carbohydrate. Otherwise I might share a pizza or pasta and get a big salad to go with it.
Mexican: Mexican food tends to be carbohydrate heavy so your best bet is to share a burrito or tacos and get a salad on the side. Veggie-based burritos and tacos are good as they usually contain beans which doubles as a good protein source.
Burgers: Let’s be honest, if you’re going out for a burger you’re not really looking to have the healthiest meal, so I would order whatever burger I feel like (excluding any fried options for the filling), and enjoy every bite! A salad on the side instead of your chips to bump up your veggie intake would be a good idea too.
Vietnamese: Pho or Vietnamese chicken salad - both of these options have lots of veggies. When ordering the pho, ask for extra vegetables like I do!
Greek: You can’t go past a Greek salad, but I do find it a bit boring so I usually opt for some grilled protein such as octopus or fish, or slow cooked lamb and of course, grilled veggies!