Eating Right When Eating Out

I eat out a lot. It’s not something that I’m particularly proud of, but it’s a fact within my life right now. When my friends and I make plans it almost always involves having brunch, lunch, dinner or some sort of snack in between. It’s not for want of trying to find other things we could do, it’s simply how things tend to work within the confines of all our busy schedules.

And I love eating out. It’s fun to try new foods or old favourites, I like interacting with the wait staff and I love to be out with people I enjoy. So now that I’m trying to eat clean how do I go out to eat and not go completely off the rails?

So far it’s been tough. Many restaurants have minimal healthy options and even if something looks healthy on the menu it might not be when it arrives. Luckily, I work close to Fresh, an amazing vegan restaurant in Toronto , so I can always steer co-workers there if we need to go out for lunch. Dinners are tough, though. At a pub with my lovely friend Donna recently (it was her turn to choose) I ordered a grilled chicken salad with raspberry balsamic dressing, only I forgot to ask for the dressing on the side and it was pretty much drenched in the stuff. It’s a healthier choice of dressing, but actually pretty gross in excess. And there were nuts on the salad, which I’m fine with, but they actually seemed almost candied. Um, really? In a salad?

I try to be flexible, so I ate the salad and tried to leave as much of the dressing in the bowl as possible. No sense ruining the meal for my friend by freaking out about the food. I figure all in all it was still better than the vegetable curry I used to order at that restaurant.

Another night Shawn and I went out and I ordered a pasta dish. It was a splurge night for me, as it wasn’t whole wheat pasta, but I only ate ½ and I chose one with lean protein (grilled chicken) and no added cheese. Better than what I would have ordered two months ago, but still not great. There weren’t many other options on the menu that could have been better anyway.

So what’s a girl to do? I’ve been consulting Hungry Girl’s site for tips (I love Hungry Girl), but she doesn’t do much that’s low-sugar or artificial sweetener free… Anyone have any tips (other than remembering to ask for dressing on the side – I won’t be making that mistake again).