Eating healthy, sustainable food no matter where you are can be an important part of creating a balanced diet. Of course, nobody is perfect all of the time, and many things are fine in moderation. However, it’s important to make an effort to find health and sustainability wherever you can, and that includes eating out! If you’re looking to find healthy, sustainable food options while you’re out — no matter the situation — here are a few tips you can keep in mind.
1. Eat Local
One great way to keep things sustainable is to keep things local! This can also be a great way to make things a bit healthier and fresher, as the shorter the distance food needs to travel to get to its destination, the fresher and more sustainable it is. While not all local eateries are created equal, supporting local businesses that source their food locally is a great way to go in a sustainable direction.
2. Avoid Processed Foods
Whether you’re going completely local or you’re eating out somewhere with a bit more of a footprint, avoiding processed, deep-fried, or oily foods can be a good way to engage both with your own health and the sustainability aspect. Processed foods tend to have less nutritional value, in addition to taking more resources to produce. Try to go a bit more natural instead!
3. Skip Dessert
This is an easy enough tip to follow, even if you’re going somewhere a little last-minute. Both in terms of food waste and in terms of keeping things a bit healthier, skipping out on dessert or ordering fruit instead can be a great way to keep things a bit lighter than going all-out. You don’t need to go for every course in order to have a good time out, and skipping dessert can be a great way to do that easily.
4. Check Out the Menu Ahead of Time
If you know where you’re going before you get there, checking out the menu before you go can definitely help you figure out the best option for you before you need to be put on the spot to make a decision. This is also a great idea if you happen to have any dietary restrictions, substitutions, or questions you want to bring to your outing.
5. Drink Water
You might be the kind of person who already drinks water whenever you go out to eat, but if you aren’t, you may want to consider starting. Not only is drinking water a little bit better for the planet than perhaps other drinks that require more resources, but it’s also much better for your health to stay hydrated consistently and make sure you’re drinking water on a regular basis.
6. Bring Your Own Takeaway Containers
Speaking of sustainability, bringing your own takeout containers can help to eliminate paper and plastic waste that often comes into play when eating out. Especially if you have the opportunity to plan ahead of time, bringing your own containers can be an easy way to help out the planet, even just a little bit.
7. Take Your Leftovers
Lastly, on the subject of leftovers, taking leftovers in the first place, even if you forgot to bring your own container this time, can be a great way to help out both your health and the planet. Rather than overeating in one sitting or stuffing yourself in order to finish a meal, taking your leftovers home can help you pace yourself and practice moderation.
Additionally, taking your leftovers home can help reduce food waste and help the planet. Essentially, it’s a great system that benefits everybody and gives you a day off of packing your lunch for tomorrow!
Staying Sustainable When Dining Out
Sustainability is a journey, not a destination. Whether you are considering the sustainability of your own health and your own diet or the sustainability of your actions towards the planet, there are plenty of ways that you can stay both healthy and sustainable when you go out to eat, even if it requires a little bit more balance and moderation.
By trying to eat local, skipping dessert every once in a while, drinking water, and taking your leftovers home, you can begin to think of your life in a bit more of a sustainable way, from your kitchen to the table.
Photography by Annie Spratt