Be honest with yourself.
You probably shouldn’t eat out as much as you do.
For one, it’s really hard to eat healthy when you’re out on the town.
The popular items on a menu aren’t the most frequently purchased because they’re nutrient-packed or low fat. Quite the opposite in fact—they usually contain ingredients that we love, and well, usually regret.
Not to mention, healthy options aren’t often cheaper—and if they are, they certainly don’t always seem worth the cost. I mean a salad for a few bucks less than a monster-sized, bacon crowned, cheeseburger? No way.
Even when you’re staying in with friends, many people defer to unhealthy options out of ease and convenience. Did you buy a vegetable platter? Be prepared to watch it sit there.
Many social situations are ripe for sugar highs and grease over-loads. I mean really, you’ve been eating pizza and cake at birthday parties since you can remember.
Our culture perpetuates something of a mono-palate, centered on what’s cheap to produce and easy to prepare. In other words, nutrition doesn’t usually play as significant a role as it should.
While many of us endeavor to break free of this sugar filled cycle of mass portions, it’s so much more difficult in social settings to moderate and control our diets.
If a healthy lifestyle is important to you, then developing a consciousness about your eating habits is a great place to begin. Following are some helpful tips on how to start down your path towards a healthier, more affordable food life.
Dieting is an art
I like to think of dieting as an art form. Most of us are not even remotely interested in scheduling out our every meal, snack, or nibble, measuring out various quantities of food with a miniature food scale; or turning friends down if they’re going out because you’re watching what you eat.
That’s no way to live.
In contrast, healthy eating as a fluid set of guidelines allows for spontaneity, not nearly as much effort, and plenty of room for mistakes that won’t ruin your hard work.
By viewing dieting as an art form, the casual dieter might have more success with it. After all, each of us is entirely different. We have different caloric needs for our different levels of activity; we have different tastes and like different textures; we respond to foods differently.
Moderation through monitoring
Sometimes it helps to keep track of what you eat so that you can make adjustments from there. It takes a little bit of work, but by recording your meals, the quantities of food you eat, and how much you’re spending, you’ll be able to cut back on the crap and the cost, depending on what is important to you.
Set aside a budget
Been hitting the town a little too hard? I like to set aside money each month for indulging, so when I’ve hit my limit, that’s it until next month. I like to keep cash on me for going out but usually buy my groceries with a credit/debit card. That way, those categories stay separate, and you don’t cut back on groceries once you’ve blown all your “going out funds.” If you’re not into a budget, just set up some goals to help you go out fewer times each month.
Eat before you go out
By having a big, healthy snack before you go out, you won’t be tempted to spend all your money on that incredibly over-priced steak.
Tapas style, anywhere
If you’re on a budget, try feasting on smaller portions. Lots of places don’t mind if you share with others in your group—besides, portions are usually massive these days.
Sometimes you just can’t decide, either . . . which is a great opportunity to indulge in something that you can split with others. On date night, try sharing something unhealthy and something healthy, like a burger and a salad. That way, you both feel full and satisfied, without overdoing it.
Watch your sides
Sometimes you try to order the healthiest item on the menu, and it comes with two pounds of fries and a large coke. Probably not the best option if you’re trying to be a little healthier. Not to mention, drinks can be very expensive for their value.
Cooking is social, too
You don’t have to go out to be social. Bring the crew over and show off your cooking skills. Ask friends to help buy ingredients or prepare sides, and just hang out in the kitchen. Even if you’re not big into cooking, you’ve probably got some friends who are.