By Pure Matters

I’ve lived in New York City for just about two years now and one thing has become abundantly clear -- there’s no shortage of places to eat out. When I first moved up here, I heard someone say; “you can eat out every night of your life in NYC and not eat at the same restaurant twice.” I decided to fact check such a claim and found the official New York City Guide lists 18,696 food establishments in the five boroughs as of 2011, presumably setting you up for at least 51 years of different dining options.

The problem with eating out though, is that it can be taxing -- on your wallet of course, but also on your health. There are healthy options, but who among us wouldn’t flock to the savory and rich plates of the city’s best dining establishments? So with that, here are some tips on how to dine out often and stay healthy.

Rethink Your Eating Habits
A lot of people usually think about trying to fit a healthy meal or a session at the gym into a diet and lifestyle that doesn’t include regular workouts and healthy eating. Instead, do the opposite. Work on establishing regularity of healthy meal choices and exercises throughout the week and try to squeeze in dining out. You’ll find that this sets you up to build a foundation of healthy choices while still enjoying the luxuries of a meal out every once in a while.

Plan Ahead
For people always on the go, eating out can be the only option. If this is the case, make an effort to plan ahead by checking the menus of where you may be dining ahead of time. You’ll hear dieticians repeat again and again that knowledge is power and in this case it may help you decide on a restaurant with healthier options. Use online resources like Yelp or Clean Plates to find the best food near you.

Don’t Let Yourself Get Too Hungry
A lot of recent diet research has found that eating smaller meals throughout the day is beneficial to a healthy metabolism and balanced blood sugar levels. Try not to show up to a restaurant starving by having healthy snacks throughout the day. This will help curb your appetite and encourage smaller portions -- not to mention help avoid emptying the breadbasket before you even order.

Share Your Food
Going to eat with company is a nice way to sample the menu without having to consume full portions. Share a salad, an entrée, and dessert instead of full plates each. Chances are you’ll be just as satisfied.

Micromanage Your Meal
So you’re at a five-star restaurant that’s known for their steaks and molten chocolate cake. Don’t deny yourself those pleasures, but instead micromanage your meal by avoiding wasted calories. Look for key words in menu items like creamy, buttery, fried, etc. and try to avoid those overly rich foods. Focus on enjoying one or two main plates to prevent excess indulging.

Eating out can be an incredibly enjoyable experience or sometimes a last resort. Regardless, it doesn’t mean you have to hand control of your health over to the chefs in the kitchen. By practicing some of the tips listed above and being mindful of your options, navigating menus to remain on a healthy track becomes quite possible.

–Tom Caruso