Dining out is such a treat: You don’t have to plan the meal, shop for it, cook it, or clean up after. But how can you make sure you stay healthy while you’re eating out — without feeling like a drag?
These 5 Easy Hacks to Create Healthy Habits When Eating Out are easy to implement without you feeling like you’re missing out:
Eat smaller portions (pack half to go!)
Food portions at restaurants are often double — if not triple — a healthy serving size. Not only does eating the entire meal mean you’re likely to get that overstuffed and full feeling by the time you realize you’ve eaten every delicious bit, but it also confuses your body about what it should do.
Your digestive system works hard to get everything you eat divvied up, and the more work it has to do, the more you’ll feel it when there’s a whole lot more food that needs to get broken down — because it also takes that much longer as your body works overtime. Smaller portions is just one way to naturally improve your digestive tract.
So, share a meal with someone — or ask for a container and immediately clear half your plate into your take-home meal for later!
Put your fork down between bites
It’s easy to quickly devour a flavorful meal in front of you (especially one you didn’t have to prepare!). But in doing so, you can easily eat more than you intended to before you even realize it.
A simple trick? Consciously put your fork down between bites.
Giving yourself a little more time to eat also gives you a chance to fully chew your food between bites, helping your digestive system out. And it also gives your brain some time to catch up with what’s going on in your stomach — so the alerts can go out when your stomach is getting full, instead of when it’s already way past stuffed. That way you can help prevent stomachaches!
Skip the bread
You’re hungry. It’s going to be a while before your food arrives, and they placed fresh, warm bread on your table. With olive oil. Or soft butter. Or cinnamon butter. It looks so good, so you grab a piece while you wait.
Next thing you know, you’ve eaten a few pieces…and it seems like you don’t have quite the same amount of room for your main course anymore. But you finish it anyway, and then you have that overstuffed feeling.
Skip. The. Bread.
Did you go out to eat for the bread? (If so, then indulge!) But if not, keep your eye on the prize of enjoying your meal. That means skipping the bread in favor of filling up on flavorful food that fuels your body and fills you longer — because you know that once the bread gets digested when you leave you’ll have more room and be hungry again.
While it’s tempting to order fancy drinks, milkshakes, or soft drinks while you’re out at a restaurant, drinking water with your meal is a healthier habit to keep. Drinking water aids your digestion by helping to make foods flow more smoothly through your digestive tract.
And the more immediate bonus? You’re not filling yourself up on beverages — because you went out for the food, right?
Be mindful of your triggers
Let’s say you know that cheese doesn’t digest well with you, or that spaghetti sauce sets off your acid reflux…but everyone is meeting at the new pizza place and you love some good pizza.
Find yourself a healthy compromise to tell yourself beforehand. If you must indulge in a slice, limit yourself to one — and have a plan for what you can eat instead. A salad with all the toppings you normally don’t get yourself? A pasta with pesto sauce? An apple before you go to help you feel full?
When you have digestive concerns, thinking and planning ahead is part of better self care — because you’re worth it!
Keep your stomach healthy
Our team of doctors at Gastrointestinal Specialists, P.C., are well versed in how to help ease your stomach issues and keep you healthy — so contact us today to schedule an appointment!