There's nothing worse than saying no to dinner with friends because you are trying to eat clean. In fact, it will probably end up making you resent your healthy lifestyle and you will be more likely to fall back into old habits. Obviously it still isn't ideal to eat out aaaaaall the time (and your bank balance won't thank you for that either) but it's important to still be able to socialise with your friends.
But how can you without ruining the diet? We are constantly surrounded by unhealthy foods - takeaways, fast food restaurants, chocolate etc etc etc. I thought it might be handy to give you a little 'eating out guide' so you can still enjoy eating out with friends without waking up feeling like you've ruined all your hard work.
Before I get started I have to pass on my thanks to the incredible I Quit Sugar 8 Week Programme for teaching me some of these tips and tricks - if you are interested in signing up to the next programme starting in June then follow this link (and I highly recommend it!!):
You are always better to opt for the savoury options on the menu - avocado, eggs, bacon, fritters, halloumi and so on. Be careful with dishes such as granola or bircher muesli - these may sound healthy but they are laden with hidden sugars (apple juice in bircher muesli or honey/maple syrup in granola). Yogurt is also something to be wary of as it is normally low-fat and flavoured and therefore FULL of the white stuff! Avoid jams at all costs - if you want toast then go for a good quality wholemeal loaf with nut butter or scrambled eggs. And pleaaaaaaaase don't drink fruit juice - it often has more sugar in that a can of coke! Have a good quality cup of coffee or tea instead.
It would be ideal if we could take lunch into work with us every single day but in reality this is not always possible - a busy evening might mean you don't have time to prepare lunch for the next day. Unfortunately, food courts are packed with unhealthy options so what are we actually able to eat? Build your own salad joints are always a good option (ask for no dressing or EVOO). Sashimi is also a perfect light lunch - try to avoid sushi rolls if possible because sushi rice has sugar in to make it sticky. Another good option is greek food e.g. meat kebabs with hummus... and how delicious too! But obviously the best option is to try and pack your own healthy lunch if possible - I always cook two portions of dinner and have one for lunch the next day.
Pubs - believe it or not, pubs are one of the best places to eat out if you are trying to eat healthily. There is almost always a dish such as steak (ask for no chips and extra veg), or large salads (with dressing on side). These options are great because there is no room for hidden nasties like you can find in sauces or more complex dishes.
Italian - menus filled with pizza and pasta can be extremely tempting but can also leave you feeling sick and too full. Opt for grilled meat or fish and try to avoid tomato based sauces as they often add sugar into these. If you do want a pizza then try and choose one without a tomato-base e.g. 4 cheese, or if you want pasta then go for one with a creamy-based sauce.
Greek - go for delicious meat kebabs, hummus, tabouleh, falafels, greek salad.... in fact most greek food is relatively healthy! Hooray! Just try to avoid the deep-fried dishes.
Mexican - it's actually not too hard to stay clean with Mexican food. Go for a burrito bowl - a delicious bowl fixed with mexican-spiced meat, rice, avocado, cheese and salad - yum! They also do great salad bowls (the same as a burrito bowl without the rice - great for lower-carb diets). The only real things to watch out for are the sauces e.g. tomato salsa as these often have hidden sugars in.
Indian - you can eat relatively healthily if you make the right choices with Indian cuisine. The best option is to go for tandoori meats or fish. Curries, although high in calories, aren't too bad in terms of sugar content so if you do fancy a nice curry then just pick carefully. The main things to watch out for are the chutneys and fried samosas.
Chinese / Thai - unfortunately these two cuisines are the worst and therefore I would recommend steering clear of them if possible. The dishes tend to be laden with sugar to create the sweet and sticky sauces. For thai, the best option is to go for a red or green thai curry or fresh rice paper rolls (without the accompanying sauce).
If you are heading out this weekend then try and keep a few of these ideas in mind and see how you get on! I went out for dinner tonight and chose grilled mahi mahi with a side dish of brussel sprouts with coconut and tamari - it was incredible!!! Remember that healthy food doesn't have to be boring :)