The all too familiar feeling… you’ve been doing really well with sticking to your extra healthy diet – then all of the sudden you are out with your friends at a restaurant and you wonder why you subject yourself to failure.

Eating out is a huge part of our culture, a treat, a time to spend with friends or family or even just by ourselves. However, we know most dishes at a restaurant are not healthy. It is usually loaded with salt, oil and empty calories.

We have a few tips for you to enjoy a delicious restaurant food with your friends or family while staying on track with your health and fitness goals.

1. Pick a restaurant wisely

Before you even leave the house, look up the menu online. Most restaurants’ menu are available online. If not, call them up and don’t be shy – it is your right to be informed about the food that you are about to put in your body. If they don’t have the information, pick another restaurant.

Pay attention to the food descriptions. Avoid the words creamy, buttery and pan-fried because it is just another term for unhealthy trans-fat.

2. Personalize the menu

There’s nothing wrong with asking if you can swap fries for steamed veggies or ask to remove the fried chicken in your mixed greens or even ask for an avocado instead of their usual salad dressing. It’s not always possible but you’d be surprise at how accommodating most restaurants can be.

3. Skip the sugary drinks

Skip the iced-tea! Juices have as much processed sugar as soda. That’s about 200 empty calories added to your meal. Drink water instead.

3. Skip the bread basket

Most restaurants will provide you with a basket of bread while you wait for your order to arrive. Don’t touch it! Unless you can control yourself to eat only a piece of bread, then go ahead. But we all know that we can create a meal out of that bread basket and mindlessly eat.

4. Eat mindfully

Mindful eating has plenty of benefits. It allows you enjoy your food more. You’ll notice the aroma, the flavors more and the texture. Chew your food slowly and put your spoon and fork between each mouthful. It gives your brain a chance to tell you that you’re already full.   

5. Pick the healthiest food on the menu

Choose that salad – go green! But skip that cheese and salad dressing. Choose that Buddha bowl or that acai bowl. Acai bowls are great for breakfast or lunch. It is packed with nutrition and very delicious. Lastly, always opt for grilled items.

6. Eat dessert =)

Desserts are tricky but is the fun part of eating out. What you can do is share the dessert with the table, have a few bites to satisfy your sweet tooth and that way you don’t have to feel obligated to finish the entire thing yourself. Fruit sorbets and berries are always a great option.

As you can see, it’s not as hard as you think it is. It is possible to stay healthy while eating out. You just have to be prepared and don’t forget to enjoy.