Belfast is a city that is definitely not short on restaurants, pubs and diners, so if you are a foodie, you are likely to have a field day in the city, if not several! This post is not exactly for food bloggers and Master Chef fans though, as the title may have already given away. This is a post for fitness enthusiasts who are looking for a way to not break their diet beyond recovery, without sacrificing the joy of socialising over a meal at one of the top restaurants in Belfast. With that objective in mind, let’s now focus on everything that you need to know about eating healthy at a restaurant, be it in Belfast or anywhere else in the world.
Pick the Restaurant
If you have the option to choose, pick a restaurant that you know will have healthy items on their menu. If you live in the city, that should not be too difficult, but even if you are not familiar with local places, just do a bit of research online and you will find the healthy restaurants in no time at all. If you are socialising with someone or a group who is/are not as particular about eating healthy as you are, ensure that the place is not exclusively for health-conscious, fitness enthusiasts!
Pick the Cuisine
In case you were not prepared to eat out and the idea was only decided on at the last minute, try to pick a restaurant that serves the following cuisines:
You’ll want to avoid Indian, Thai and Mexican cuisines in particular, although you will see them being advertised as healthy options often on the internet. In truth, most of their preparations have way too much vegetable oil, ghee and cream in them to be considered healthy. Instead, you can find much better options with the choices above.
Practice Mindful Eating with Potion Control
Portion control is part of the mindful eating process that every fitness enthusiast relies on heavily to keep their weight in check. It’s all about being mindful regarding what you eat and how much you eat, be it at home, at friend’s place or a restaurant. With sound knowledge about the nutrient content of common food items, the process can become a lot more effective and immaculate, but such intricate knowledge is not necessary to practice portion control successfully.
Even if you have to eat something oily and unhealthy, by keeping portions to a minimum, it is easy to not let the meal put your body out of its healthy routine by much. However, mindful eating and portion control become particularly difficult when you are hungry and the food smells delicious! This is where micro meals come in, as we will discuss next, and we don’t mean from the microwave!
Have a Healthy Micro Meal Before Going Out for Lunch/Dinner
It could be a healthy protein shake, a protein bar, or just a small cup of chicken soup, but the idea is to have a small meal about one to two hours before you go out for the big one at a restaurant. This is actually a clever little trick that will help you with portion control inside the restaurant. If you are not particularly hungry, it becomes a lot easier to avoid overeating, irrespective of how appetising the food outside maybe. Due to the small size of the meal, you will, of course, still be able to enjoy the whole eating out experience, but you won’t be hungry enough to overeat restaurant food.
In order for this to work though, the small meals in question need to be prepared with pure proteins, essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in such a way that it takes the digestive system a few hours to digest completely. The principle is similar to how a weight loss shake works, but thanks to Shake That Weight, the options are much wider than just weight loss shakes in different flavours, although those are viable and quick meals that are ideal for the purpose here. You will get to choose from nutrient-rich porridge, health bars, noodles, soups, cereals, delicious shakes and more at Shake that Weight. Choose or make a micro meal of your choice to successfully practice mindful eating while dining out.
Study the Menu
Every restaurant has a few healthy dishes, and in worst case scenarios, you should be able to find a few that are less unhealthy than the others! Picking your way through the restaurant’s menu is also very much a part of the mindful eating process we discussed earlier, along with portion control. This holds true for every restaurant mind you, and even the seemingly healthy ones. If we take Italian cuisine into consideration, they have a range of healthy options on the menu generally, but not every item there will conform to that standard. Shells of pasta and a dish full a carbonara spaghetti is never good news for your health, but you can easily avoid them and go for minestrone or marinara for a fulfilling and healthy main dish instead. If it’s up to you to make the choice, always choose a cuisine that you know well enough, so that you can choose healthy options with a better understanding of the menu.
Alcohol May Not Be a Good Idea
Regular alcohol consumption has been linked to a number of diseases and conditions such as cancers and liver diseases, but in moderate amounts, it can be beneficial for our health as well. Unfortunately, alcohol and mindful eating are often contradictory in nature, even in moderation. It’s difficult to be mindful of how much you are eating and what you are eating when you are trying to relax and socialise, even without alcohol.
This difficulty becomes a borderline impossibility when you are also inebriated, and your thoughts are a bit fuzzy as a result. If you must drink, stick to red wine or wine spritzers, while practicing the same portion control with your hard drinks as you did with the food. Besides, even in moderate amounts, alcohol can make you gain weight like nothing else can, so if you are trying to lose weight, or have only recently achieved the figure you always wanted, just avoid drinking altogether if you can.
Now that we have discussed the most crucial tips and tricks that can help anyone eat healthy in a restaurant, you should have a clear idea about what you need to do to not break your diet too extensively. In case you are feeling apprehensive about an upcoming dinner at a restaurant you did not get to choose, let us leave you with a word of assurance. It is okay to let go every once in a while, as long as you don’t let it happen too frequently. A single dinner full of junk food, sweet desserts and alcohol will not ruin your health and achievements. Dining out becomes a problem only when you let such dieting misadventures become a habit, while trying to lose weight and get back in shape at the same time. As you have probably heard many times, it’s all about moderation.