(1) Opt out the soft drink for water
It’s really easy to drink your calories, you don’t even THINK about it. If you like, ask for lemon water if you want to feel fancy. Soft drink is a huge sugar hit (even the diet drinks leave you wanting more). Choose the sugar-free, carb-free, fat-free option (10 points if you know that movie reference) – water!
(2) Swap butter for olive oil and balsamic vinegar for bread dunking
People have more recently caught onto the idea of dunking fresh, warm bread into extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of spreading on the butter. The Mediterraneans have been doing it forever. My family is from Greece, and I grew up with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt on my bread. The inclusion of extra virgin olive oil in the context of a Mediterranean diet has been linked to reduced rates of heart diseases, backed by some pretty convincing studies. The healthier fats in the olive oil are the ones responsible for keeping your ticker healthy, over the animal based fats found in butter.
(3) Peer pressure is still a thing
Peer pressure in a social eating situation is a thing, even if it’s subtle. Ordering what everyone else does is very easy to do. Get in first, and give your order to the waiter before your friends start swaying you towards the less nutritious options.
(4) Portion control
Have you noticed the fancier restaurants use HUGE plates and seemingly TINY morsels of food in the middle? And after you’re done you’re wishing for just a bit more food, so you go for dessert? *cha-ching*
You’ve probably heard about the recent research that larger plates are tricking you into thinking you’re eating less food. The fuller a plate looks, the fuller you will feel, so think about how much food you really ate, not how much white space is on the plate.
(5) Chew your food well
Don’t forget to eat slowly. The act of chewing (also called mastication) is important in preparing your stomach that food is on its way and gets it ready to digest whatever it is you’re munching on. Your saliva can kick start this process for any starches you’re eating and can save your tummy some of the hard work. Chewing your food more can help your brain signal when you’re full. It’s okay to stop eating when you’re full. There’s no need to finish the meal just because it’s in front of you. Ask to get it to-go, if it’s an option and have it for lunch the next day.
(6) Ditch the chips
Don’t mean to alarm but the food that is most associated with obesity is potato products. The starchy potato isn’t ALL that nutritious, and with all the salt that comes with it, it’s definitely something you should consider cutting down on. In general, swap fried foods for proteins and veg that are grilled, roasted, baked or steamed. It retains the nutrients of the food far better without the extra fats associated with the heated oils and fats. If you get an option of “chips, veg, salad, mash”, choose the veg & mash or mash & salad. Swap deep fried potatoes for baked sweet potato fries.
(7) Have some perspective
How often do you go out for dinner? How would you rate your diet usually out of 10? Is a night out with some choices you wouldn’t ordinarily make on any other day really going to make a huge difference? Probably not. Get back into your routine the next day and if it’s not a regular thing, enjoy your food and your night out. Healthy living is about enjoying the people you’re with and the food you’re eating, when you can do both of those things, guilt-free, you’re onto a winner.