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Is There a Better Way to Order at Restaurants?

Dr. Arnan Sisson, PT / February 25, 2022 

With so many temptations on restaurant menus, it’s natural to feel a little tortured about what to order. Once that mental back-and-forth begins, it’s all too easy to say, “Heck with it, give me the carbonara and pass the bread sticks.”

Along with planning meals or your food choices, you can also plan how to show up.

  • Is this a special occasion where you want the freedom to indulge? Is the food so unique and amazing at this restaurant that it’s truly worth it? (If so, slow down and really savor the experience.)
  • Or would you prefer your choice align with your healthy eating practice? (If so, consider preparing in advance by reviewing the menu, or even setting a phone or calendar reminder to help yourself stay on track.)

There’s no right or wrong answer, but deciding ahead of time can help you stay focused and avoid being distracted by a mountain of pasta. 
Every time you follow through on your plan, notice how you feel after you’ve finished your meal.

Ask yourself: “Am I just as satisfied as I would have been otherwise?”

If yes, that’s a positive step to encouraging the same behavior next time. (With more practice, smart choices become easier and easier.)
If no, try following these steps:

  • Order a plant-rich dish. (Shoot for half your plate to be vegetables.)
  • Choose a lean protein. (Read: chicken breast or fish.)
  • Avoid breaded and fried foods. (This eliminates a lot of poor choices.)
  • Ask for dressings on the side. (And use responsibly.)
  • Eat slowly. (See Challenge #3, above.)
  • Stop when you’re 80 percent full. (See Challenge #6, below.)

These aren’t hard and fast rules, but a practical guide for when you’re eating out—no matter if you’re at a fine-dining establishment or a fast food chain.

Is this your top challenge?