Healthy eating out

Check out my tips to help you make healthier choices when eating out at a restaurant or cafe.

Food swaps:

Some easy swaps you could try:

swap pies, bacon and sausages for healthier protein, such as lean cuts of meat, pulses, chicken without the skin, and lean meats like ham or fish (not fried)

swap cream and cheese sauces for tomato and vegetable sauces

swap fried rice (such as egg-fried rice) for plain boiled rice

swap chips and creamy mashed potatoes for baked, boiled or steamed potatoes with their skins on

swap cakes, chocolate creamy puddings and ice cream for fruit salads or other fruit-based desserts and lower-fat, lower-sugar yoghurts

swap vegetables served with butter, oily dressings or mayonnaise for steamed vegetables served plain

swap alcohol or a fizzy drink for a glass of still or sparkling water mixed with some fruit juice – remember, even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary, so limit yourself to 150ml of fruit juice or smoothies each day (drinking fruit juice with a meal or diluting it with water can reduce the impact it has on your teeth).

Healthy menu tips:


More and more restaurants are putting the energy content in their food and drink on their menus or websites.

Find out more about keeping track of your calories.

Healthy tips when eating out include:

ask for salt not to be added to your meal during cooking or preparation

avoid snacking on bread and nibbles before your main meal arrives

don’t order too much – you can always order more later if necessary

bulk up your meal with a side order of low-calorie steamed vegetables

ask for sauces to be served separately so you can eat less

avoid large or super-sized meal options

Ordering dessert


Tips when ordering dessert:

share one dessert between two

swap cream or chocolate desserts for fruit-based desserts, such as apple crumble

Instead of having ice cream or cream with your dessert, ask for fruit purée or plain yoghurt.



Healthy lunch on the go:

Salad tips:

avoid salads prepared with mayonnaise or covered in oily dressings – examples include coleslaw, potato salads and some pasta salads

check the calories and the fat, sugar and salt on the nutrition label of pre-packed salads

choose salads with dressings sold separately so you can control how much you eat

Sandwich tips:

choose brown, wholemeal or higher-fibre breads

check the calories and the fat, sugar and salt on the nutrition label of pre-packed sandwiches

you may not need to use butter, spread or mayonnaise if your choice of sandwich filling is moist

bulk up your sandwich with vegetables, like tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber

healthier sandwich fillings include turkey, chicken, tuna, seafood (such as prawn and crayfish), avocado, reduced-fat hummus and a hard-boiled egg

lower-fat cheeses include edam, emmental, gruyère, mozzarella and lower-fat cream cheese

with sandwich meal deals, choose water and fruit or yoghurt if they’re available, rather than sugary drinks and crisps

Hot food tips:

healthier fillings for baked potatoes include baked beans, cottage cheese, tuna and sweetcorn, vegetarian chilli con carne and ratatouille – avoid adding butter or sour cream, which are high in fat and calories, and be wary of ready-mixed fillings, which can be high in fat and salt

with pasta, opt for tomato or vegetable-based sauces, which count towards your 5 A Day and are lower in calories and fat than cheese- and cream-based sauces, and avoid adding cheese to your pasta

go for soups with chunky vegetables – have it with a wholemeal bread roll to make it a filling meal (check out our vegetable soup recipe if you want something to make at home and take to work.

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