If you, like many people, are trying to eat a healthier diet, eating out with friends and family can offer challenges. But with a bit of planning and discipline, you can enjoy a meal at restaurant without an overload of calories, sugar and fat.

Here are five strategies that will make eating out and enjoyable and healthy experience.

Try Salads

Get into the habit of ordering a salad for lunch instead of a burger and fries. Many diners expect salads to be bland or boring, but as salads become a more popular option, restaurants are making their salads more flavorful and filling.

Most restaurants now offer a number of salad options, generally with the choice of adding chicken or shrimp, if you prefer a more substantial meal. Light dressings go a long way, and a squeeze of lemon or a bit of balsamic vinegar will help to add extra flavor, without adding a lot of calories, sugar, salt or fat. Avoid salads made with mayonnaise-based dressings.

Swap Fries for Vegetables

Because restaurants are aware of the popular trend of eating healthier foods, they will often allow substituting a side of vegetables in for French fries. Steamed vegetables are chock-full of nutrients and will help you feel full faster than the fries would. Broccoli, squash and zucchini are all tasty options for a side dish.

Choose Options with Fewer Sauces and Condiments

Often at restaurants, diners go for the creamy, heavy dishes. However, you should avoid dishes with heavy sauces, which can be high in sugar and fat content. Instead of chicken parmesan or chicken Alfredo, just have the grilled chicken. With the right spices, it will still be flavorful and satisfying.

Some diners get like sandwiches as a lighter lunch option, but be careful when choosing your toppings. Condiments can add a lot of extra calories, salt and fat, without adding nutritional value. At your local sandwich shop, order a simple turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato sauce and a dab of oil and vinegar instead of mayonnaise or a heavy dressing.

Choose Leaner Meats

Beef and pork are great once in a while, but they tend to be higher in fat than other meats. Chicken, turkey, fish and shellfish will offer less fat than a burger, nut will be just as satisfying and delicious. Choose the grilled, broiled or stir fried versions of these foods, to avoid adding additional fat and calories.

Have Coffee Instead of Dessert

A sweet at the end of the meal seems like the perfect accompaniment, but desserts are generally high in fat and sugar. Instead, have a cup of coffee or tea, which has a satisfying effect, without the extra calories. If you prefer, a cappuccino or espresso can make it a little more special.

A bit of planning can help you to choose the healthiest option for your meal when you go out to eat. Many restaurants offer their menus on the internet, which can help you to avoid temptation when reading the menu options. These tips can help you to enjoy eating out, without the guilt.

Anita

Author Bio: This article has been shared by Anita Ginsburg who is a freelance writer and residing in Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. Anita recommends trying out a local sandwich shop when you’re trying to eat healthier.