So unsurprisingly, this was the topic that was chosen by an overwhelming majority in one of my recent groups when I ran a poll, so I decided to turn it into a blog post too, so more people could benefit from it…
Often we make great choices at home, or even when at work, because we are making things ourselves. But eating out is a different ball game as you can't quite be sure what is in things (and who wants to be the person asking the waiter for the ingredients list and nutrient breakdown for each dish!)
So with that in mind, here are some tips for making better choices when going out:
1. If you are eating late, or particularly hungry, grab a healthy snack before you go out so you're not starving when you arrive at the restaurant as that's when you're likely to dive in to the bread sticks or prawn crackers...
2. Which leads me on to the next tip... avoid filling up on the high GL stuff. We've all done it, we are starving, the meal is taking ages and there's a bread basket on the table. We chat and we dig in and before we know it, the basket is empty and we've just consumed total GL for the day before we've had dinner (and not counting breakfast and lunch!) The answer? Ask the waiter to take them away, and order something healthy to nibble on such as olives, or an equivalent low GL snack (depending which restaurant you are in).
3. Watch out for hidden sugars - these are usually found in sauces, pickles and dips. And you wouldn't believe just how much sugar is in them! For example, tomato ketchup consists of 23.6 grams of sugar per 100 grams, or roughly three grams per serving (a teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams).
4. Order off the menu - don't be afraid of asking the kitchen to change something. Within reason, they will do so, so for example, if you'd like the steak but it comes with fries (which are super high GL), ask them to switch it for steamed vegetables and a few new potatoes. Sounds obvious but you'd be surprised how many people will just have the chips rather than ask.
5. We all love a Ruby (well I do!). When it comes to a curry, rather than ordering a whole rice portion each, split the rice with someone and order a few vegetable sides instead. Remember, it's the rice that is going to make the meal higher GL so try to stick to the size of portion you'd have at home.
6. Often starters offer healthier options than mains - there's nothing wrong in ordering two starters instead of a main. I often do this (mostly because I'm gluten free and starters are often easier for this). It's actually really enjoyable as you get to taste two different dishes!
7. Avoid battered or fried foods. They are often full of either lots of saturated fat, or damaged (oxidised) oils which have been heated to high temperatures. This means avoiding things like fish and chips at the pub. If you really do want battered fish, don't order it with chips but ask them to replace it with lots of veggies instead. With the batter, you'll be full up anyway.
8. The specials board will often offer lower GL dishes such as fish of the day, so don't forget to check it out.
9. When eating out in an Italian and you really want a pizza, either try to share one with someone and then order a large salad to share too, or choose a very thin crispy version. The thicker the base, the more flour, the higher the GL.
10. If you're just not sure, the easiest way to work out what to have is to think about how much carbohydrate is going to be in a dish. Something with lots of wheat, potatoes or batter is going to be much higher GL than something with protein and vegetables, even if it comes with a creamy sauce (remember, dairy isn't high GL).
I hope this post will help you to make better decisions when eating out. If you have any questions at all, do ask them in the comments below, and please do share this on social media to help others too
Helping people to achieve optimal health and wellness - sharing simple nutritious recipes, tips and advice on how to improve your health through food, without compromising on taste.