I have had a request from one of my really good mates. Like many of us he works in a busy, fast paced job and is constantly faced with entertaining clients – be it long business lunches or dinner/drinks after work, all these occasions present a challenge if you are trying to eat healthily. He asked if I could give him some tips on keeping these wine, beer and calorie laden occasions as healthy and wholesome as possible whilst avoiding too much embarrassment. So here are my top tips on how to eat out and not feel the guilt afterwards:
Out for Drinks:
- When ordering drinks always make sure you order a jug of water for the table at the same time. Try and match your drink with a glass of water 1 for 1, this will slow your drinking down and will also help to avoid mindless sipping of your alcoholic drink when you are nervous or busy chatting. If you are able to pass on the alcohol a soda water with a good squeeze of fresh lime is a good option (I get mine served in a wine glass!) and it has a bit of a kick to it.
- Order some healthy nibbles straight away, at the beginning of the evening, rather than waiting until you have had a few drinks and are likely to make the wrong choices. Order nibbles that have some protein which will help to balance your blood sugar levels (especially if you are drinking alcohol) which means they are much more likely to fill you up. Good nibbles choices include: hummus or tzatziki with crudités, unsalted nuts and olives, artichokes, chicken satay sticks (go easy on the sauce), grilled calamari, sashimi, grilled/roasted vegetables, grilled prawns etc. In addition order a salad for the middle of the table; despite appearances most people will be thankful for it!
- Things to avoid: breaded and deep fried options, breads (no matter how inviting or healthy they look!), crisps, fries, wedges, pizzas
- Watch your portion sizes! Picture a dinner plate and make sure that your nibbles don’t equate to any more than your usual plate of dinner. It is so easy to over indulge with nibbles because you are eating one thing at a time so it is hard to keep track of what you are eating.
Out for Dinner:
- If you are able to choose where to eat, then take this option if you can! The best choices are usually the simple ones, so go for a restaurant/cafe where you can get a good piece of meat or fish and some vegetables or salad. Most reasonable Australian and European restaurants will offer this, good choices include: Italian, French, Greek, Turkish.
- Be wary of sushi as it is very easy to overindulge and a lot of the rolls are made with white glutinous rice. If you do have sushi then stick to sashimi, endamame beans and grilled fish or meats. Also ask for a salad.
- If you are going for Asian food then again try and go for the fish/meat option rather than the fried noodles/fried rice which are packed full of calories and little goodness.
- No matter where you are always ask for a side order of vegetables or salad, even if your plate of food includes some vegetables already. If it isn’t on the menu ask anyway, I have never been refused a salad or vegetables yet!
- If you must go for pasta or pizza then always go thin crust and opt to share a few dishes with the table and order a couple of salads to go with it. That way you can enjoy a few slices of pizza and a fill up with vegetables.
Out for Coffee/Afternoon Tea:
- Avoid mindless sipping! Whilst you are embroiled in a business conversation you are unlikely to be concentrating on what you are drinking (unless the meeting is really dull of course!) Therefore do you really need that mocha latte? Are you really going to enjoy it and taste it? If you have already had your quota of coffee for the day they why not opt for a cup of lemon and ginger or peppermint tea instead to avoid excess sugar and fat.
- Find the nuts! I have noticed that lots of coffee places are now selling bags of raw nuts. Why not offer those to the table before anyone has a chance to eye up the cupcakes?!
And one final thing, in those moments of weakness remember this…as Buddha (c. 563 BC to 483 BC) – a spiritual teacher from ancient India who founded Buddhism said; ‘To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.’ That strong clear mind you could gain from abstaining from those sugar filled treats could actually help you from a business perspective, rather than hinder it!