Getting Healthy: 7 Ways to Be Assertive When Dining Out

200_147 Salmon Dinner.jpgYour health is literally in your own hands. You get to choose what foods you are going to consume, even when dining out.  You may think that what is listed on the menu is carved in stone, but with some creativity, you can take a standard menu and create a very healthful meal.

1. Do your home work. Assertiveness starts with having a voice in where you choose to eat out in the first place. Scope out the menus online, and, when the situation allows for it, opt to go to restaurants with more healthful choices in the first place.

2. Choose grilled or steamed over fried.  Ask if a fried item can be grilled instead or substitute vegetables for french fries.

3. On the side please. Ask for all sauces and salad dressings to be put on the side. Then, rather than pouring the dressing or sauce over the food, dip your fork into the sauce/dressing before skewering the food.  You may find that you do not even use all of the sauce provided.

4. Mix and Match. Create a meal from a seafood or vegetable based appetizer and a small dinner salad or broth-based soup. Assess how hungry you are before ordering. Just because you are dining out, that  doesn’t mean you have to order a full meal.

5. Get inquisitive. Ask about the ingredients in a dish or how the menu item is prepared.  For example, a lot of restaurant salads have many high calorie additions. Think croutons, bacon and cheese. Be assertive and ask for those items to be left off your salad.  Your waistline will thank you.

6. Make your own dish. If you see something on other part of the menu, like a mango salsa that is a topping for chicken, see if it is possible to substitute it for the high calorie toppings you are leaving off of your salad. The answer may be no, but it never hurts to ask.

7. Boxed and ready to go. Have your server bring the take-home box at the beginning of the meal. Portion sizes of dine out meals are notoriously over-sized. Box up half of your meal before you even start eating.

Armed with these 7 ways to be more assertive when you are ordering, may you find that the healthful choices you make, today, create a healthful and enjoyable life for all of your tomorrows.