This is a guest post by our summer intern Ashley Legieza
We all have a favorite restaurant that we love going to. Whether it's the ambiance or the delicious food, dining out is a huge part of life! But have you ever tried to re-create some of your favorite restaurant dishes at home? Most of the time, it is difficult to achieve the same taste or flavor. Chances are that your favorite restaurant uses an excessive amount of butter, oil, and salt to make the dish you often crave. But you don't have to give up dining out when you are managing your weight! There are several tips to use when going to any restaurant to help you stay on track and still enjoy your favorite meal.
Scope out the menu. It's a great idea to check the menu a day or so before heading to the restaurant if you can. This allows you some time to survey the menu and choose a healthy option. If you wait until you get to the restaurant, chances are you may be starving and order whatever looks good! Plus, you can go in with a game plan and not feel influenced to order certain foods because your friends/family are ordering certain items.
Substitutions are great! Don't be afraid to make substitutions while dining out! For example, many dishes come with a side of pasta or french sides. Instead, ask for a side salad, veggies, or even a baked sweet potato. This is a great way to enjoy meals without the added calories of unhealthy side dishes that many restaurants offer.
Plan Ahead. If you know that you have dinner plans later in the week, it's a good idea to plan your weekday meals around that dinner plan. If you know you are going to splurge when dining out, then try to focus on eating healthy the rest of the week! Everything in moderation.
List your priorities! There have been many times while out with friends that you may want to ditch your plan to get grilled salmon and order a creamy pasta dish. When this happens, try to ask yourself why you want to eat healthy in the first place! Think about mindfully indulging sometimes all you need is a few bites of a dish to feel satisfied. It is all about balance and what makes you feel the best!
Ashley Legieza is a Nutrition & Dietetics student at Penn State University. Learn more about Ashley in her introductory blog post here.