We’ve all experienced it at one point – we want to socialize, but we also want to be mindful of what we eat. So, is it possible to do both? Yes! With the right hacks for eating out!

Restaurants have a special place in our hearts. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) revealed that in the US, Americans consume about 24 percent — almost one quarter — of their meals outside their homes. Whether you’re in New York or Grand Lake, restaurants just have that quality that makes you feel like home.

Restaurant meals are designed to not only look appealing but also smell and taste great. However, this also means that nutrition becomes the last priority, what with all the mouth-watering dishes on the menu drenched in huge amounts of butter or rich sauces, salads smothered in creamy dressings, and only a few selected whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Eating out can be divided into two separate categories: it’s either a spur-of-the-moment decision or completely planned out. If you know how to handle both of these scenarios, then eating healthy even when you’re dining out is totally achievable! Here are some of the things you can do:

Before you head out, come up with a plan.

The best way to make early plans for your dinner or social engagement at a restaurant is to preview the menu online. Not only will you be able to review the menu, but you can also do a thorough check of the restaurant’s sourcing practices. For example, you can research where they’re getting their food from and how they’re made. When you’ve previewed the menu online, you’ll be more prepared once you’ve arrived at the restaurant. You can create a plan beforehand, which makes it a lot easier to stick to your healthy eating behaviors. This also means you’ll be able to order before anyone else does, allowing you to avoid the social pressure or situations when eating out in groups that can easily alter the choices you initially wanted to make.

You’re not hungry, just thirty; so, stay hydrated!

pouring water from bottle into glass on blue background

Most of the time, when we think we’re hungry, it’s actually just us being thirsty. These two can sometimes manifest in similar ways. So, the next time you feel signs of hunger, drink a couple of glasses of water first. Then, after 15 minutes, see if you’re feeling better or still feeling hungry. This is a great way to stay in control of your food intake, especially when you’re in the middle of social situations where the mind-body connection weakens due to the presence of distractions, such as when you’ve been consuming alcohol or are in the middle of great conversations. So, be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after every meal.

Be mindful of the wording and don’t be afraid to ask.

Don’t hesitate to ask your server to make your meals healthy. For example, try to ask for a salad instead of the usual fries or chips that come with a meal. Also, check out how the meals are described. Stay away from those that are fried, smothered, breaded, rich, and creamy and go for those that are grilled, steamed or boiled.

With some simple planning skills, you can still make healthy eating choices even when you’re eating out.