By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
Choosing healthful options on a restaurant menu can be a challenge for even the most seasoned healthy eater so it can be especially challenging to find healthy, simple, and plant-based options on a menu while trying to stick to a Reboot. For many it may seem easier to decline invitations to dine out while Rebooting, but it’s important to make and keep connections with others while making lifestyle changes, as these connections may actually facilitate the major change by boosting mood and confidence. Use our tips to make navigating a restaurant menu or social event while Rebooting a bit more simple.
I always recommend that whether Rebooting or not, to arrive at a dinner, cocktail party or event that will be serving food, feeling satisfied. Research suggests that arriving to a party or dinner where food will be served, feeling satisfied instead of hungry may help to promote better choices. This means you should drink your juice before you arrive, or if possible bring it with you. Bringing a juice with you to a gathering, including either dinner at a restaurant or a party, not only allows you to have something while others are snacking, but it also allows you to share your juicing journey with others. Sharing your juicing journey with others may help you to gain even more support from friends, family, and co-workers, which may help to make you even more successful. Another great tip I love to recommend is to sip on a juice that’s new or different, which can help to keep you and your taste buds interested and satisfied. If drinking a juice before arriving or even while you’re there seems overwhelming, aim to choose items like sliced vegetables or other plain, plant-based options (see #2 for more tips) that are similar to the foods recommended in days 1-5.
Keep it simple: If you’re unable to bring your juice with you to a restaurant or social event, choose the simplest, plant-based options available on the menu; similar to those recommended in days 1-5 of a 15 or 30 day plan. For example, choose plain sauteed or steamed vegetables, a raw vegetable plate, or a plain salad; and if the salad comes with a dressing, you can simply ask for some lemon and olive oil on the side. Keeping it simple by choosing plant-based and plain options when eating out can facilitate eating more nutrients, less added salt and other unnecessary and processed ingredients.
Speak up: Ask your waiter for the healthy, simple, and plant-based dishes that you want even if you don’t see them available on the menu (as in #2). Chances are that most restaurants will be able to accommodate your requests for healthy, plain vegetables or a salad, and for a small fee most restaurants will give you a larger portion if the only size available is a small side.
Be choosy: If able, choosing the restaurant you’ll be going to can facilitate easier menu selection as you’ll have time to peruse restaurant menus prior to arriving. If you’re unable to select the restaurant you’ll be dining at, try to set time aside to peruse the menu and pre-select items you’ll be ordering; this allows you to arrive with a plan, which can also help you stay on track. Remember, you can always drink a juice prior to going to the restaurant, or even bring it with you if you’re comfortable doing so.
Drink up: Water isn’t only a great tool for hydration, but it’s also great for regulating appetite. Therefore it’s important to make sure you drink about 8 glasses of water throughout the day (total ~64 oz), and that you order water to have along with either your juice or the food you will be ordering. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger, which can facilitate overeating, so it’s important to keep track of your fluids throughout the day. You can also ask the waiter for slices of lemon, lime, or orange if available to add natural flavor to your water.
End well: Finally, if you’re at the end of the meal and fighting the urge for a rich and decadent dessert along with the rest of the table, order something like berries or fresh fruit. Most restaurants will be able to prepare a side dish of fresh fruit even if it doesn’t appear as a feature on the menu.
Let it go: If all of the previous 6 tips fail in helping you to stay on track and you end up over-indulging out for dinner, don’t fret. The most important thing you can do at this point is let it go, hop back on the wagon, and move forward. Continuing on with your Reboot and letting go of the past will help to facilitate further healthful diet and lifestyle change.