1 Jun 2021

Out And About: Your Guide To Eating Out Mindfully

As restaurants, cafes and pubs reopen their doors and our social schedules begin filling up again, here are some tips on staying mindful of your health when eating out.

Plan ahead

One of the best ways to remain mindful of your health while eating out is to plan ahead. For instance try to avoid turning up ravenous which may lead to overeating. Instead ensuring you have a moderate appetite by having a healthy snack, like two hard boiled eggs or an apple with a small handful of nuts or seeds, will afford you more control when you arrive at the restaurant. You can also consider looking up the menu before you arrive and spending time perusing the options ahead of time to help prevent feeling overwhelmed by having to make a choice with a waiter, well, waiting.

Fill up on the good stuff

And no I don’t mean from the bread basket. The temptation when out at a restaurant or cafe is to over order on large and rich starters or to ‘save space for dessert’, because when we are hungry we’d eat anything. Instead, choose a salad as a starter to calm any extreme hunger and a main course based on animal protein (such as fish, poultry, game, meat) or vegetarian protein (like tofu, beans or lentils), and plenty of vegetables (restaurants always offer plenty of side dishes for you to choose from). Limit breads and starchy carbohydrates (such as pasta, potatoes, rice, etc.) and avoid dessert or opt for the strawberries or a cheese plate with a side salad (without the crackers!). Opting for these choices will mean you fill up on the nutritious stuff and won’t be left feeling hungry for more, so you can relax and enjoy your dining experience. 

Make the menu your own

Want to avoid the cream sauce or anything fried?  Fancy introducing your own healthy twist to something already on offer? Don’t feel shy about ordering off-menu, no one will thank you for being a menu purist. Try swapping ingredients in and out of the listed options or asking for an addition to what’s on offer to suit your taste, for example instead of chips, choose to have 3 new potatoes or a side
salad. Consider ordering two starters instead of a main course, request that sauces and dressings are served separately and ask for your food to be steamed, grilled, or roasted. Don’t be afraid to refuse the bread basket – ask for olives instead. 

Feel free to get playful with the menu, unless you have a French waiter of course, in which case don’t even think about mucking about with a thing! 

How do we eat out ?

While some of us tend to overeat when going to a restaurant, others exert ultimate control over what they eat. They will have perfected the art of eating healthy (very common on social media) and they will astound you with discipline and perfectionism at the restaurant, but will binge secretly on biscuits the minute they arrive back home. No matter where you think you sit in terms of your eating behavior, don’t beat yourself up, simply be mindful of the thoughts that drive you to overeat or starve yourself.

Limit your alcohol intake

It’s easy to drink more alcohol than you realise when eating out, with your wine glass constantly getting refilled, or to get carried away, with ‘just one glass’ leading to plenty more. Remember alcohol is high in sugar and also lowers your resistance to temptation (of all kinds!). If we want to remain mindful and reduce overeating, let’s remember the effects of alcohol on our appetite. Make a plan for what you want and how much you are choosing to drink. Drink slowly, with food, and alternate with water. You might want to start with one large glass of water or a non-alcoholic drink before you start drinking alcohol, and then stick to just one glass of good quality wine. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout your meal.


As a nutritional therapist I love helping people eat more mindfully, including when dining out. Book your COMPLIMENTARY 30-MINUTE CALL with me and together we can discuss ways to increase mindful eating habits.