Here’s What A Nutritionist Orders When She Goes Out To Dinner

Jessica Sepel shares her top nutrition-approved tips for selecting the healthiest options when dining out at a restaurant.

dinner
Image: jessicasepel.com

It’s a common misconception that when you’re trying to eat healthy, you can’t dine out. But part of being healthy is having an active social life and sometimes that’s going to mean catching up for dinner with your gal pals. While you could be the person who brings their own packed salad and tuna to the restaurant, you could also pick up some these genius ordering tips from nutritionist and founder of JS Health, Jessica Sepel. She’s mastered the art of navigating the menu and finding the most healthy option.

Whether you’re heading out for Chinese, Italian or Thai, Jess has got you covered with her nutritionist-approved tricks.

1. Modern Australian

Modern Australian, dining out, Jessica Sepel
Pinterest / Lazy Cat Kitchen

Eat this:

  • Go for lean protein (grilled, steamed or barbequed) with a side of green vegetables or a green salad.
  • Often, I go straight for the sides! Roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potato chips or simply steamed greens with lemon juice and olive oil are the perfect accompaniment to a meal.
  • I also always pair my option up with a fresh green salad. 

Avoid this: 

  • Fried foods and creamy dressings. Ask for salad dressings on the side if you can.

2. Japanese

Japanese, dining out, Jessica Sepel
Pinterest / 500px.com

Eat this: 

  • Miso soup or edamame beans.
  • Slices of sashimi (white fish is best).
  • 1x sushi roll with rice + fish or chicken – brown rice if possible.
  • Sashimi salad with seaweed and avocado.
  • Chicken/beef teriyaki with Asian vegetables, with sauce on the side, are other fabulous main meal options.

Avoid This: 

  • Tempura dishes, Japanese mayo and heavy sauces.

3. Chinese

Chinese, dining out, Jessica Sepel, dumplings
Pinterest / Jessica Gavin

Eat this: 

  • Lean protein (chicken/seafood) stir-fry with lots of colourful veggies!
  • Opt for poached, steamed or grilled options that use simple Chinese flavours – like chilli, garlic and ginger. 

Avoid This:

  • Dumplings, spring rolls and fried meats – it’s easy to overeat and lose a sense of portion control when you’re snacking on a lot of little fried dishes.
  • Go for boiled rice instead of fried rice – it’ll cut down on unnecessary oils and fats.

4. Italian

Italian, dining out, Jessica Sepel
Pinterest / Spicy Southern Kitchen

Eat this:

  • Grilled chicken breast, fish, veal or steak with steamed or grilled veggies and an Italian green salad.
  • Pizza lover? Choose a thin crusted base and add lots of vegetable toppings e.g. tomato, capsicum, onion, mushrooms etc. 

Avoid This: 

  • Creamy pasta dishes.
  • Processed meat toppings.

5. Thai

Thai, Jessica Sepel, Dining Out
Pinterest / Pinch Of Yum

Eat this:

  • Lean protein (fish, chicken or beef) with vegetables such as bok choy and chinese broccoli – incredibly nutritious!
  • When it comes to stir-fries, look for ones made with lime, lemongrass, ginger, basil, chilli and garlic and not heavy sauces (peanut or coconut milk based).
  • Dishes that are fresh and light! E.g. Tom Yum soup, a papaya salad with lean protein or a Thai beef salad.

Avoid This:

  • Fried dishes e.g. spring rolls, chicken wings or moneybags – tasty, but very high in oil and sodium.

6. Vietnamese

Vietnamese, dining out, Jessica Sepel
Pinterest / Lazy Cat Kitchen

Eat this: 

  • Choose vermicelli salads with lean beef or chicken, rice paper rolls and dipping sauces that are light and thin.
  • Opt for steamed or poached seafood or meat with fresh herbs – full of flavour without any added nasties! 

Avoid This: 

  • Fried food and creamy sauce. 

Remember, following the 80:20 approach like I do (80% good foods, 20% not so ‘perfect’ foods) means allowing wiggle room to indulge. Believe it or not, indulging is good for you – as long as it’s not all the time. Dining out should be a source of joy – a moment shared with loved ones – not something that causes anxiety or stress because there might not be the right or healthiest meal.

Treat yourself once in a while, to a delicious meal or your favourite dessert when dining out. Your body and mind will thank you!