Dining out used to be an excuse for me to eat unhealthy, mostly because I thought there were never wholesome alternatives on a menu. Since moving to Monaco, however, I’ve been eating out nearly on a daily basis and have had to find ways to eat out without freaking out.
I have a gaggle of go-to eateries. I tend to hit Mozza (11 Rue du Portier) for the chicken and vegetables or for the Dover sole. When craving a good piece of meat, I’ll definitely head to BeefBar (42 Quai Jean-Charles Rey) and order their barbeque sauce mash on the side – not exactly the healthiest choice, so we’ll keep that between us.
When I’m in the mood for fish with a view, I’ll go for the seabass at Horizon at the Fairmont (12 ave des Spélugues) or venture over to Anjuna in Eze (28 ave de la Liberté).
Most often you’ll find me at Eqvita, Djokovich’s vegan restaurant 7 Rue du Portier, chomping down on a vegan burger with sweet potato fries or the sweet jacket potato with mushrooms. It’s always a toss-up between these two mouthwatering dishes.
With a little practice, I’ve developed some foolproof tips for enjoying eating out without going all out.
- Choose your restaurant wisely. Most restaurants offer a healthy option but when in doubt, check out the menu online before you go.
- Send back the breadbasket. I used to love bread and the only way I managed to get off it was to no longer have it in front of me. Not only does bread fill you up with empty calories, but worse, it causes a surge in blood sugar levels which will leave you craving more.
- Order water and drink 1 or 2 cups before the meal arrives. This way you’re not confusing your thirst with hunger thus reducing your chances of overeating.
- If you’re up for it, avoid alcohol all together but otherwise try to stick to one drink. Choose your preferred beverage and savour every drop, sipping slowly while making sure to alternate with sips of water. Alcohol is dehydrating so drinking water is also a sure way to avoid a hangover.
- If you feel like a starter, opt for mainly vegetables or some type of fish tartar or carpaccio.
- When choosing your main course, identify what protein you’re going to have first. Chicken, meat (preferably grass-fed), fish, seafood or a vegan source of protein – lentils, quinoa or chickpeas are all great choices.
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- Go for something that’s preferably grilled or steamed, and stay away from any deep-fried foods. Avoid anything with heavy sauces or ask for it to be put on the side so that you can choose just to have a little of it. Alternatively, ask for olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to flavour fish or ask for mustard if you’re having meat.
- Skip starches and double up on veggies instead. For example, if the fish you’ve chosen comes with rice or potatoes, ask them to be replaced with green beans, broccoli or whichever vegetable is in season instead. Aim to fill at least half your plate with a colourful range of seasonal vegetables. These are filled with vitamins and antioxidants that will keep you healthy and glowing.
- Try to stay away from pasta, potatoes and fries. These are nutritionally poor and don’t bring anything but empty calories, a surge in blood sugar levels and give something for your body to burn instead of burning fat.
- When you can, try to skip dessert and order a fresh mint tea instead. If you’re craving something sweet, ask for some fresh berries or a scoop of sorbet. Berries are full of vitamins and antioxidants and are low in sugar, while sorbet is a healthier version to ice cream as it contains some vitamins from the fruit, no diary and often less sugar. My personal favourite is coconut sorbet with dark chocolate sauce. It’s probably not the as healthy as having berries but it’s a good compromise and makes me feel like I’ve had something really indulgent even though it’s actually not that bad.
The key to eating out is pleasure. Eat slowly, enjoy your company and stop when you’re gently satisfied, around 80% full. I’m not very good at this because I love food so much but I remind myself that this will not be my last meal and that it’s worth keeping room for the next one … or for my coconut sorbet.
Article first published August 27, 2017.Maddy is the Founder of Nutrition For Naughty People, aimed at helping individuals find a better balance between the things that keep them healthy and the things that make them happy! Any questions?