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How to Have a Great Dining Experience the Budget-Friendly Way (From a Restaurant Insider)

How to Have a Great Dining Experience the Budget-Friendly Way (From a Restaurant Insider)

You know that you have total control over the ingredients, the preparation, and the portions when you’re preparing food at home. It’s the safest option. It’s healthier and cheaper than eating out too. However, sometimes you find yourself eating out due to necessity or just because you want a nice night out.

There are so many great restaurant options out there now that target very specific dietary requirements, from vegan to paleo. Once you’ve settled on a place that looks good, how do you get the best experience from the restaurant?

Along with working in fitness and nutrition, I’ve spent years working in restaurants, so I’ve seen a lot along the way. Let me share seven great tips to get the most out of your dining experience.

1. If you want a table for two, book a table for three

Every square foot in a restaurant means money. Tables of two can be stuck anywhere and tend to be pushed to the side or lumped all together. If you’re looking for a comfortable and more private night out for the two of you, reserve a table for three. It will get you a better location and more room.

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2. Look for these first two indicators of a good restaurant

I’ve worked with secret dinners and one of the big ones on the list is the bathrooms. This will give you a good indication of not only the cleanliness of the place but the attention to detail. Washrooms should be spotless. If you see a messy and dirty bathroom, I can promise you the kitchen is in a similar condition. A dirty kitchen ends up serving dirty food.

The next indicator of a good place is the type of bread and butter, or free starters that come out. How often have you had a rock hard roll and frozen butter that tears it apart when you start to spread? I’m pretty sure the rest of the meal was nothing to write home about.

A good restaurant should serve warm, fresh and ideally baked in-house that day bread with soft spreadable butter. Bonus points if they serve butter with grain mustard or an assortment of oils and balsamic kinds of vinegar. This is a good sign that they take pride and care in the preparation of their food.

3. Look out for the decoy effect

If you’re a wine drinker, purely for the antioxidant benefits.., look out for what’s called the decoy effect. The decoy effect works like this: If there are two wines on the menu for $9 and $16 which would you choose? There’s honestly not a huge difference price wise and not a huge scale of reference. Now if you add a $47 wine into the mix most of the time people will go for the $16 one. The perceived value has changed and something you may not have bought because it seemed too high now appears as inexpensive and good value.

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Wine lists will always have a few of these very expensive decoy wines at the top of the list to make the other ones appear cheaper. The trick is to have a few favorite wine and get familiar with the pricing and look for those ones whenever you dine out.

4. Have them make your own salad dressing

Any restaurant worth its salt should be making everything in-house including sauces and salad dressings. Even though they are made from scratch, many salad dressing can be high in fat and even sugar. If you’re in a chain restaurant, ditch them all together as you’re guaranteed to be getting a dose of trans fat *cough* Caesar salad *cough*.

Instead, ask them to make you a simple olive oil and red wine or balsamic vinegar dressing to come on the side. It’s the healthier option and you can control the amount you use.

5. Ask your server what they eat

I do this everywhere I go. After a while of working in a restaurant, all the dishes and items tend to just become products to the staff and they’re probably bored of most of them. If you want to find the best stuff on the menu, ask your server or hostess what they eat when they’re there. It’s a good way to find the really best stuff on the menu.

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6. Avoid ice in your drinks

O.K time to get a little gross. Ice machines are not regularly cleaned, trust me, it’s a pain. This leads to a lot of bacteria growth that ends up in your drink. Six out of ten restaurants have been found to have more bacteria in the ice than in the toilet water.[1] This is because the toilets are more regularly cleaned than the ice machine. Even though it’s cold, bacteria still grows.

7. Avoid fruit in your drinks

I’m a very clean person and am aware of keeping my hands clean. But when I was a bartender, it was pretty impossible. Hands used to grab dirty glasses are then grabbing fruit that goes into your drink. A lot of the time, the fruit at the bar is never washed and is easily contaminated by whatever else the bartender has touched from dirty dishes and utensils to the rims of glasses other people have drunk out of.

Just to concern you further on this fruit issue The Journal Of Environmental Health took samples of lemon slices from 21 different restaurants and found 70% of the samples to contain twenty-five different microbial contents.[2]

Everyone loves a good meal out and it’s always a great eye opener to see what real chefs can come up with using simple ingredients. I’m sure you’ve had good restaurant experiences and plenty of bad ones too. Hopefully with some of these tips, you’ll be able to set yourself up for some more good ones.

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Just don’t forget to check the bathrooms…

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference

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Jamie Logie

Jamie is a personal trainer and health coach with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

Reasons of Insomnia and How to Combat It (The Complete Guide)

Reasons of Insomnia and How to Combat It (The Complete Guide)

Having issues sleeping is a sure fire way to live a less fulfilled life. Personally, I’m a believer that getting enough sleep consistently is one of the best things that you can do for your health. Feeling out of control and powerless over your ability to get a good nights rest can make you nuts.

If you’re struggling with insomnia, this article will help shed some light on the causes and provide resolutions to your sleep issues.

What Is Insomnia?

In a nutshell, insomnia is the inability to sleep. What’s so brutally torturous about insomnia is that you can be completely exhausted, yet unable to fall asleep.

Insomnia can be an acute issue (short term), meaning that it can creep into your life for a night or a few weeks.

It can also present as a chronic issue, meaning it ebbs and flows and comes and visits you every know and then, although uninvited. Chronic insomnia is diagnosed when the individual suffers at least three nights a week for three months or longer.

Symptoms of Insomnia

There are a spider web of symptoms that can root from insomnia, especially when it shows up chronically in your life. According to WebMD, general symptoms of insomnia can include:[1]

  • Sleepiness during the day
  • General tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Problems with concentration or memory

In addition to these general symptoms, insomnia can effect your relationships, career life and limit activities that give you joy, strictly because you don’t have the energy or motivation to do them.

Feeling exhausted really takes a huge toll on your mood, energy level and overall zest for life. Just like any issue, overtime a lot of other consequences can, and most likely will, result. This is so with lack of sleep.

Reasons of Insomnia

Insomnia can strike any of us at any point of our lives. A major cause of sleeplessness is stress and worry.

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I know that when I’ve had periods of time where there has been a ton on my mind, it’s resulted in sleep disturbance. I can recall nights just laying there as hours past by.

Below are more detailed reasons why insomnia would come knocking at your door:

According to WebMD, the causes of acute insomnia can include:

  • Significant life stress (job loss or change, death of a loved one, divorce, moving)
  • Illness
  • Emotional or physical discomfort
  • Environmental factors like noise, light, or extreme temperatures (hot or cold) that interfere with sleep
  • Some medications (for example those used to treat colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma) may interfere with sleep
  • Interferences in normal sleep schedule (jet lag or switching from a day to night shift, for example)

According to WebMD causes of chronic insomnia include:

How to Overcome Insomnia

There are, without a doubt, many things you can attempt to do differently in order to get your sleep habits back to a healthy state. Even if you’ve struggled with sleep for years, please know that you can find relief.

Here are 10 tips on how to combat insomnia:

1. Believe That You Can Develop a Healthy Sleep Life

Believing that you can is a huge part in getting beyond any difficulty. If that’s where you need to start, it’s worth really looking at your belief system surrounding what’s possible for your sleep patterns.

Just as if you didn’t believe that you can find love, if you don’t believe that you can find a good groove with your sleep, it will be very difficult to do so.

2. Stay Away from Any Screen Time Before Bed

Everything that you come across is being ingested, including what you watch and listen too.

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Be mindful to make time to wind down before bed by disconnecting from anything that’s coming at you. This can be a violent flick or a charged up sports game.

To go further, even if you’re watching something mellow, the blue light from screens can affect circadian rhythms, which can mess up your sleep cycle.

Just as you can feel super loopy after traveling that entails changing time zones, your devices can have a similar effect.

3. Have a Consistent Bed Time

I get it, routines can take the fun away from life, although some routines can guarantee that the fun will keep going around.

Just like little kids need consistency via their routines to avoid melt downs, we, as adults, need to do consistent things for our health to stay grounded.

Having a consistent bedtime routine allows your body to have a flow, which will help it, overall, function at its best.

4. Avoid Caffeine Intake After Noon

I know that asking some of you to avoid caffeine all together is just a hard “No.” Therefore, I’ll ask you to avoid any intake of caffeine after 12pm.

Why, you ask?

This gives your body time to process the stimulant effects that caffeine has and can potentially really help your sleep cycle.

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5. Keep an Eye on Your Alcohol Intake

If you’re struggling with sleep, drinking is one habit that can truly be interfering with your sleep.

Alcohol can cause waking in the night and interferes with sleep quality. It’s deceiving because initially alcohol can make you “pass out” and fall asleep quickly, although the deepest and most restful part of sleep, (REM), rapid eye movement sleep, is compromised when we drink alcohol.

This is why, even if we do sleep sound after a couple drinks, the quality of our sleep was not a pure that it would be without alcohol processing in our bodies.

6. Move Your Body Consistently

I feel like this suggestion is always on one of my tip lists! Getting regular exercise has so many benefits including what it can do for your sleep pattern.

Utilizing up some of your daily energy by moving your body is a win/win on so many levels. It keeps you fit, it keeps you feeling emotionally better, it helps release endorphins and it can improve the quality of your sleep.

If you’re having issues sleeping; try regular exercise. It could be a game changer for you.

7. Don’t Go to Bed Full

When we go to bed full, we are already at a disadvantage because being full is uncomfortable.

Eliminating any states of discomfort is a key step to ensuring that our sleep is going to be higher quality. Be mindful of eating a big meal right before you go to sleep. Your digestive track will be happy not to have to go into busy mode when your system is trying to shut down.

8. Create a Zen Vibe in Your Bedroom

One of the key ways to create an ideal sleep environment is to bring a sense of calm and comfort to your sleep space. If you have the means, invest in nice bedding, buy an essential oil diffuser (lavender oil is great for calming), get some amethyst stones to promote calming and healing energy.

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Do your best to make sure your sleep environment is dark, quiet, and not too warm or cold. Do whatever you are called to do to make your bedroom a place of peace and rest. Need I say to avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep (or sex.)

9. Make a List

What do you mean make a list? I mean, that if you find yourself with a racing mind right before bedtime, write your thoughts down.

Take all the mental noise and write it down in a list type format to put it somewhere other than floating around in your head. This action has been so helpful for some of my clients that have struggled with sleep disturbance.

10. Find Flow through Rhythm

There have been times where I have literally self soothed my way back to sleep by finding rhythm. I’ve found rhythm with counting numbers; both backward and forward. Although, I don’t care what you count; just count.

Counting creates rhythm and it also creates a space to focus our thoughts. This is especially true for those of us who have a worried and racing mind.

The Bottom Line

As I mentioned a bit earlier, there is hope for anyone struggling with sleep disturbance. A significant first step toward addressing any issue is becoming more familiar with it.

We can combat this issue with understanding symptoms and causes. Often times, we’ve never been taught that simple, small habits that we’ve been doing can be the gateway to our disturbed sleep patterns. That one shot of expresso after dinner can be a killer for those of us struggling with sleep.

Do your pat to clear up all that you can on your end, but tidying up what’s within your control.

As always, if your symptoms continue there are specialist and other avenues to take. Talk with your medical doctor to get more details of higher levels of assistance toward your sleep.

Be well.

More Tips to Help You Sleep Better

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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