Body

Gemma McCaw's tips on how to keep your diet on track while eating out

Don’t add guilt to your cafe bill!

By: Gemma McCaw

Former Black Sticks captain Gemma McCaw has made a career out of being fit and healthy, so she knows a thing or two about wellness. Each week Gemma shares her tips on how to live a healthier, happier life. This week she gives her advice on how to maintain your diet while eating out.

Going out to restaurants and cafés is something to be enjoyed, but it doesn't have to mean breaking away from your healthy habits.

Here are some tips for making sure you stay on track while still being able to enjoy a night off cooking.

Don’t skimp beforehand

Avoid starving yourself all day to compensate for a meal out at night.

If you do, you're more likely to go for the most tempting things, which are often the least healthy. Arrive ready to eat, but not starving. Balanced blood sugars mean you're less likely to overindulge.

Ditch the drinks

Guess what? It's not essential to drink alcohol just because you're at a restaurant! Try sparkling water with a squeeze of lime instead – and remember to arrive well hydrated so you don't mistake thirst for hunger.

Sauce on the side

Ask for your sauces and dressings to be served separately. Often creamy sauces and condiments are laden with butter, salt and sugar. These calorie-dense extras can bulk up your meal without you even realising!

Remember to keep your meal balanced

Whether you're eating at home or out, plates should include mostly non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins, some complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. This combination promotes steady digestion, leaving you satisfied for longer. A meal dense in carbohydrates, on the other hand, will leave you feeling unsatisfied. A dish that's grilled, baked, broiled, steamed or poached tends to have fewer calories than one that is fried or sautéed.

Avoid that decision fatigue

It's easy just to say "I'll have what she's having" when it comes to choosing from a menu, but keep in mind that we're all in control of what we eat. Make your own decisions that suit you, rather than following the pack. Have a look at the menu online before you go out to lessen the chance of eating whatever your friends are having … just because.

Size matters

The size of your meal is just as important as what's on your plate. Studies show that over 90% of restaurant meals exceed the number of calories considered appropriate for a single meal! So don't feel you have to eat it all – ask for a doggy bag!

Lead the way

Don't be afraid to order your meal first, and remember to speak up. Restaurants are usually happy to compensate – for example, swapping fries for a side salad or pan-frying your fish rather than serving it battered and deep-fried.