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
- 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.
- Fried foods and creamy dressings. Ask for salad dressings on the side if you can.
- 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.
- Tempura dishes, Japanese mayo and heavy sauces.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Creamy pasta dishes.
- Processed meat toppings.
- 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.
- Fried dishes e.g. spring rolls, chicken wings or moneybags – tasty, but very high in oil and sodium.
- 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!
- 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!