Making healthy choices while eating out.

July 31, 2010 § 5 Comments

I was having a discussion with a co-worker last night who really wants to re-vamp her diet and form some stellar eating habits, however one thing she observed was the black-hole of diet doom that suddenly appears when you have to purchase your lunch/dinner out.

Yes, I agree that in a perfect world, packing your own nourishing goodies will always trump buying dishes of unknown nutritional content & dare I say it, hygiene! However i’ve also found that you can make a concerted effort to seek out those establishments that cater for the health-conscious individual – they are out there, you just have to do your research.

Enter, Iku Wholefood, a chain in Sydney that is all vegan, predominantly organic, with no preservatives, additives or GM foods, and even gluten-free wherever possible. Hello! Their website even gives nutritional stats – check it out.

Today, as a Saturday treat, I bought my lunch from these gods of wholesome fare in between work, and work.

What was that you were saying about tasteless vegan eats?

OMGNOM. What you are seeing is a veritable orgy of brown rice salad, greens, lightly steamed veg, beetroot slaw, bean salad, chickpeas with preserved lemon, pickled ginger & an inundation of fabulous tahini dressing that somehow complements every element of the dish.

I saved half for work dinner, but I can hear it whispering in seductive tones from the fridge, so it’s longevity as a left-over remains in doubt.

Can I secretly divulge that I find cauliflower infinitely boring & tasteless? In this context however, i’ll let it slide.

Shameless plugging of favourite food hang-out aside, I feel that there are many ways in which you can minimise the chances of eating something shitty on the run. It’s not SO hard to be astute in your choices (granted; it is easier in major cities than regional areas) and with a little thought, you can make sure that your meal still complies with your wholesome-foodist ideals.

In general, try to avoid heavy carb-based dishes that may disguise a lot of hidden nasties; such as creamy pasta salads, huge turkish bread slabs, and toasted sandwiches. Not that I want to get all calorific on yo’ ass, however these cream-based, bread-based, cheese-based meals can carry a hefty calorie tag. Instead, if you’re lucky enough to be at a salad bar, try grabbing a mixture of more veggie-based options, with some beans, lentils or whatever else you can lay your hands on. I guess what i’m saying is that it’s better to have a protein + veggie combo than a huge cheesy, fatty, carby hit. Even something like a brown-rice sushi roll & salad is a much better option that a faux-healthy vegetable pasta dish that is well and truly more than a normal portion, and is probably soaked in low-quality vegetable oils and other unmentionables.

Things like frozen, low-fat yoghurt & gelato may also be faux-amis in the sense that low-fat does not equate to low-sugar. In fact, there is probably more sugar in these items than usual to compensate. If there’s one thing i’ve learned, it’s that processed sugar is what we need to avoid – not fat as commonly believed.

A lot of shops also randomly sell pieces of fruit, and in a pinch I might grab a banana and a herbal tea from somewhere to tide me over until I get home, rather than wasting money on a whole, unsatisfying meal.

Any other tips? Have you found it hard eating out while trying to stay healthy?


§ 5 Responses to Making healthy choices while eating out.

  • Roselie says:

    Great tips! What I ‘ve realized is that it’s easier to eat healthily when eating out if you are a vegan (or at least open minded in your diet) because the dishes that are worst to eat are usually not vegan. And if you do a little more research on your own you ‘ll be able to tell which dishes are the ones you should opt for. Oh and also when you can, choose Eastern cuisines, Indian, Thai, Japanese e.t.c. because they are the most veggie-friendly. Hmm, avoid the fried though.

  • bonne_santé says:

    Yes! Awesome ideas – Thai cuisine is a good fall back because you can just get a huge delicious stir-fry overflowing with fresh vegetables. Lebanese works well too with loads of tasty, albeit garlicky options! Vegan definitely cuts out that whole ‘token vegetarian dish consisting solely of cheese’ business, that’s for sure.

  • Lindsay says:

    I’m stealing the phrase: “Not that I want to get all calorific on yo’ ass”… it’s too perfect 🙂

  • Katie says:

    Yes! I have SUCH a problem remaining healthy while eating out. This issue has recently been exaggerated to the fullest because I’ve been living out of a hotel for the last few weeks. I use this as such an excuse to eat like crap. and guess what? I feel like crap! I need to get my eating under control ASAP because I have been so bloated and irritable lately I know I’m driving everyone crazy! Eating well is so much easier when you’re settled in one place, and are able to make your own meals. Bah…oh well, soon enough things will be back to normal for me, and in the mean time I am going to make a serious effort to take advantage of healthier options on the menu!

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