As much as I like to (modestly) brag that I can make a mean breakfast burrito, cooking is not my forte. As a result, my husband and I end up eating more than I ever thought possible. As a Crohn’s disease sufferer (think: major bowel problem) for the past seven years, eating healthy isn’t just a lifestyle choice. It’s the difference between being influential and being chained to a porcelain throne. So, out of necessity, I have become the queen of asking questions and asking for change whenever I eat at a restaurant. (Yes I am and who.) Character of the story? You can eat, eat your food (and your life), and still use food to improve your health. Read on for a cheat sheet of healthy eating tips that healthy women use regularly.
1. Do your research
Whether you’re going to Sunday brunch with the girls or a long-awaited first date, come prepared by doing a quick Google search to check out the restaurant ahead of time. Providing a menu once will prevent those times when you dread ordering fried chicken because everyone else has. It will also give you a chance to think about what foods you will like best and what will make you feel good. This way, you are less susceptible to mindlessly ordering fries or a pile of pancakes when you are hungry while sitting at a restaurant.
If you’ve been tasked with choosing a dinner spot (even better), you can take it one step further and check the behavior of the restaurant you’re considering. Where do they get what they get? Are they organic and sustainable? What is their food philosophy? Then, narrow down your choices based on what you like best.
2. Not allowed to enter the hotel
We’ve all been there: You go to a restaurant and you’re so hungry, you can’t help but dig into the bread basket or the chips and salsa. To prevent a repeat of this unfamiliar event, do not give up your usual foods or snacks before you eat. Instead, do yourself a favor and eat healthy, nutritious meals of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and veggies throughout the day to keep you full and your blood sugar stable. And before you go out, reach for a small meal that contains protein and healthy fats, such as veggies and hummus, an apple with almonds or peanuts, or a hard-boiled egg with a few almonds.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I always asked to be the last one to order. I hope that the other people I dine with will enjoy the conversation and see my never-ending list of questions and changes. I will hide behind my menu, worrying about how others and the server will react to these requests. But over the years, I have learned to speak with confidence. Most of the time, I am patient and kind when communicating my needs.
Therefore, don’t be afraid to ask (with respect) how the dish is cooked, the size of the portions, the type of oil and other ingredients they use, etc. And while you’re at it, don’t be afraid to ask if you can sprinkle some mac and cheese or mashed potatoes on top. The more you know about your firearms, the better (read: healthier) choices you can make for yourself.
4. Introduce your recipes
A good rule of thumb is to always make vegetables the star of your meal. But the most healthy women know not to miss their favorite foods, such as pasta, tacos, pizza, or burgers. Instead, they think addition veggies and their food. If you’re eating cacio e pepe, don’t force yourself to get some hot chicken and broccoli instead. Order a starter salad with a side of broccoli to get some fiber and nutrition. Then, choose a food that you really like. (Food is fun!)
Most restaurants have a salad section or a veggie side option, making it a no-brainer to get some extra veg. Whether you’re serving a salad as an appetizer, double your entree with steamed spinach, or drink a green juice during your meal, you’ll be adding more digestible nutrients to your diet. well and make your body look amazing.
5. Ask for condiments on the side
I don’t want to spoil it: Many sauces and dressings eaten at restaurants are full of sugar, salt, artificial additives, and other hidden ingredients that can include common allergens like soy and gluten. If you’re serving a salad to get more good-for-you foods, it’s likely that sugar or artificial ingredients are added to the dressing used. The good news is asking for any food or clothing on the side gives you control over how much money you spend. You can also try asking for other healthy ingredients, such as pesto, salsa, guacamole, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
6. Listen to your body and mind
News flash: Most of the dishes served in restaurants in the US are at least twice the size of what will fill us up and fill us up. If you’ve been taught not to waste food since childhood and joining the clean plate club is all you know, listen up. Most of us eat whatever is in front of us. So, in restaurants with large portions, this means eating until we feel full, uncomfortable, and even sick. Check your body frequently to determine when you are full and no longer enjoying the food in front of you.
Another tip? Try ordering family-style to share an entree, appetizer, or dessert when you go out to dinner with others. Or if you know Joey Tribbiani that sharing food isn’t your thing, consider asking for a to-go box before you start digging into your food. Lunch tomorrow? Check out.
7. Drink more water
Healthy women consider H20 their BFF, so first thing when you sit down at the table: Pour a tall glass of water and keep it coming. Staying hydrated during your meals can also help slow down to eat. This allows you to monitor your hunger and satiety to prevent overeating. If you decide to include alcohol in your diet, find better ways to cut it back. Drink the wine to your heart’s content. Choose a drink that has fresh ingredients rather than sugar and syrup. Don’t forget about your trusty glass of water.
8. Eat well
Let’s face it: In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we are overwhelmed by distractions. Between work emails, TikTok and the latest Netflix binge, it’s easy to binge eat without stopping. The next time you eat, make it a point to eat with all your mind and intention. Take in the look of your food (yes, eating with your eyes is a real thing), its smells, textures, tastes, and how it makes you feel. It will force you to come down, hang out, and experience the experience with your friends or acquaintances. If it’s difficult for you to start eating well, put your dishes in every few meals to develop awareness of your food and timing. Trust me: your digestion will thank you.