Do you tend to eat out more during the holiday season and final months of the year? As the year starts to wind down and our lives become overrun to the point of potential burnout, people tend to turn to fast-food and restaurants to supply their meals throughout the week. While this might be more convenient for us, we must remember that the foods we consume on a daily basis directly impact our digestive system, our moods, and our overall health status. It is because of this that we must pay attention to the foods we are consuming.
Eating out tends to mean meals are filled with higher amounts of artificial sweeteners and unhealthy fats that will negatively impact our health, but is there a way to properly eat out without sacrificing your health? Let’s break it down.
How Does Eating Out Impact Your Digestion and Overall Health?
It is no secret that you can get delicious meals while eating out, but are you compromising your health by indulging in these foods? When you eat out, you do not have control over the ingredients of the meals you are consuming. This means there is a higher chance you are eating meals with a higher salt content, saturated fat content, and artificial sweeteners.
When consumed in high amounts, these substances can cause negative effects on your health. They can cause issues such as dehydration, water retention, digestive complications, excessive weight gain, and high cholesterol. Excessive weight gain can raise the risk of developing other chronic conditions and might put unnecessary strain on your joints.
Artificial sweeteners and processed foods can also have an addictive quality meaning that these complications can be further exacerbated by your desire to continue eating out. The more you consume these foods, the more your body will crave them — even if you are aware of their potential danger.
When dining out, it is more common to consume meals that are of bigger proportions without even noticing. While this definitely will not hurt from time to time, if you consistently are consuming overly proportioned meals, you will most likely overeat. Overeating causes indigestion, constipation, and bloating. Regardless of where you are consuming your meals it is important to implement mindful eating practices to avoid overeating.
Meals at restaurants also contain more refined grains and less fibrous ingredients. Fiber is an essential nutrient needed to properly maintain one’s digestive tract. Fiber helps to bulk up one’s stool in order to avoid experiencing constipation. In addition to these physical implications, there are also mental implications to eating out excessively.
The Mental Impact That Eating Out Can Have On You and How To Prioritize Mindfulness
Processed foods contribute to inflammation in the body which can contribute to mood swings and mental instability. In contrast, when you incorporate nutrient-rich foods in your diet, your brain will thank you for it. These nutrients are what give your brain the power to work efficiently. Eating out tends to lead to a lack of nutritional intake.
On the other hand, eating out is a great way to introduce yourself to different cuisines and meals. For many, this brings great joy into their life. However, this should be done sparingly so that it is more of a special occasion rather than a regular occurrence.
The social aspect of eating out is something that many turn to to bring happiness into their daily lives, but there is a way to reap these same benefits right at home! Instead of going out to dinner with friends this week, consider hosting a dinner party right at home where you all can indulge in some home cooked meals while still enjoying each other’s company.
The adverse issues connected to the triggering ingredients in takeout can also cause mental complications. For example, the high sodium content in takeout food can lead to dehydration and inflammation in the body. When you are dehydrated, you are more likely to experience brain fog and fatigue.
Due to these risks, we recommend minimizing the amount you do choose to eat out. However, for those days and moments when takeout is non-negotiable, we have tips on how best to support your body when eating out.
Tips and Tricks to Support Your Health When You Do Choose to Eat Out
While these health risks are associated with excessive eating out, there are ways to eat out in a healthier manner. Here are some tips on how best to support your health when eating out.
- Make Mindful Choices: Depending on where you are going to eat, there is most likely a variety of different food choices on the menu. Try to opt for the meals that are not fried, processed, or high in fat/salt. Instead, look for meals that contain nutrients that will be beneficial to your health.
- Speak to your server: The server or cook at a restaurant should be aware of the way in which meals are created, meaning they will have a better understanding of what meals might be more beneficial for one’s health. Do not be afraid to share your needs, so that they are able to get you the best possible meal.
- Eat mindfully: When eating out, make sure to eat slowly and with intention. This will help you to avoid overeating and feeling stuffed to the point of bloating. Allow your body the time to send you signals of fullness before it is too late.
- Drink Water: Due to the high sodium content in takeout food, be sure to prioritize drinking water before, during, and after your meal. If possible, try and choose water as your beverage during your mealtime to optimize your hydration levels.
- Check Menus Beforehand: In the spirit of achieving a nutrient-dense diet, it might be beneficial to check a menu beforehand to better understand what your options are. This will be especially helpful if you have certain health goals, but are still looking to enjoy a meal out. This way you will not have to compromise on your goals or your social activities.
- Take a Probiotic Supplement: A supplement for bloating such as a probiotic can help to ensure your digestive tract is getting the support it needs while consuming relatively unhealthy food. It will protect your gut health and ensure you are getting beneficial bacteria in your system.