Having a catchup with the girls is a fabulous way to wind down after a rough week. Add good food, and maybe a couple of drinks too, and you’re in for a real treat. 

However, what are you to do when you’re trying to stick to healthier foods, but are faced with a menu with tempting, yet less than nutritious options? The answer: pick something and indulge.

Healthy eating does not need to spoil all the fun. In the end, it’s not just about eating healthily, but eating smartly. Here are some tips to show you how:

1. Read the menu carefully

The food you eat is not all that you should be thinking about. How it’s prepared is vital too, and the menu can very easily give this away. Gina Sunderland, a registered dietician, recommends that you look out for words like “pan-fried”, “crispy” and “dipped”, as they indicate the presence of nasty fats. Instead, choose the “grilled”, “steamed” and “baked” delicacies.

... unless you’re very hungry, or the portions are very small you don’t really need a starter and a main meal.

2. Salad first

Start off your meal by munching on a crunchy salad, rich in greens, tomatoes and carrots. In doing so, you’re bound to feel fuller by the time your main meal arrives. Research at Pennsylvania State University proves that you’ll in addition consume fewer calories on the whole.

3. Starter + Starter = Meal

In many cases, menus include sumptuous starters of veggies and seafood. Combining a few should be sufficient to constitute a meal. Reader’s Digest reckons that if you devour a couple of these, you’ll be left with a happy, full belly. Because let’s be honest, unless you’re very hungry, or the portions are very small you don’t really need a starter and a main meal.

4. Split the dessert

You don’t have to skip it completely! Live a little! Cut down on your sugar intake by sharing it with a friend. This way, you’ll save a few bucks too. Not feeling generous? Sunderland suggests ordering lower-calorie dessert choices such as sorbets or non-dairy gelatos. 

The trick is balance. If you’re very thirsty, have water first, and then a smaller drink for taste.

5. Let H2O be your thirst quencher

Water is the elixir of life. There couldn’t be a better drink and if it’s tap water, it’ll be free too! Not only that, The New York Times reported that choosing water over other drinks allows you to eat foods with more calories. Yay!

Read more: You've been drinking water all wrong- new study proves we're all sheep

6. …if not, watch what you drink

It’s okay to occasionally spoil yourself with a tasty beverage rather than water. In this event, try to drink one with fairly low fat and sugar content. If you’re having orange juice with breakfast, The New York Times proposes having only half a glass in place of a full glass. If you’re sipping on a latte, Sunderland advises opting for skimmed milk. The trick is balance. If you’re very thirsty, have water first, and then a smaller drink for taste. 

Reading these will make you realise that food is to be enjoyed:

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