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Can you eat out & stay healthy?

Eating out at a restaurant is one of my favourite things to enjoy with family and friends.

But I also know it's hard to stick to a healthy plan when eating out. So many restaurant dishes are laden with unhealthy types of fat, salt and sugar.

A study carried out by Liverpool University of 21 full service restaurants and 6 fast food restaurants found that 1 in 4 starters and 1 in 5 side dishes contain more calories than is recommended for a full meal!

However, there are a few tricks you can use to enjoy a delicious meal while still keeping it healthy.

First off, try to find a restaurant that has a good variety of healthy options on their menu. Grilled fish or chicken, salads, and veggie dishes are all great choices.

You'll want to avoid fast-food places if possible (although, interestingly their desserts are often less calorific than at a standard restaurant.)

Before you head to the restaurant, take a quick peek at the menu online. This way, you can get an idea of what dishes they have available.

Once you arrive, look for grilled or baked options rather than fried ones.

Healthy options can include hummus and crudites or olives for starters. Ask for a salad without dressing. Sirloin steak is less fatty than rump steak.

You'll also want to watch portion sizes, as many restaurants serve up far more food than you need. Don't be afraid of asking to share a portion or side dishes. You can also just leave some food uneaten. If you are like me, you have been brought up to finish the food put in front of you, so this can take a bit of getting used to.

Make sure to pay attention to how your food is prepared, too. Skip the creamy sauces and cheese toppings, as those can add a lot of unhealthy calories and fat. Instead, look for dishes that get their flavour from fresh herbs and spices.

It's easy to forget about drinks, but they can be just as important to consider when eating out. Water or unsweetened tea/coffee are great choices. Cocktails are very high in sugar. Make sure you know what you are drinking and keep high-sugar drinks to a minimum.

. Finally, don't be afraid to ask for some tweaks to your meal. Lots of restaurants are happy to make changes, like leaving off the cheese or switching out fries for veggies.

While it's important to make healthy choices when eating out, it's also essential to remember that balance is key. Allow yourself to indulge in moderation and don't feel guilty about it.

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