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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 January 8, 2020

How to Sleep Through the Night and Get Good Rest

How to Sleep Through the Night and Get Good Rest

“Healthy sleep is an essential part of our life as regular exercise and healthy diet”

. A good sleep directly affects our mental and physical health and also linked to better cognitive function, lower rates of inflammation and heart disease. It is also directly related to daytime energy, productivity, emotional balance, and even your weight. Contrary, people having poor sleep at night may have a higher risk of heart disease. It may also cause depression, confusion in day activities, anxiety and even memory loss.

Poor sleep may also lead to weight gain and increase disease risk in both adults and children. Much research also shows that poor sleep has instant negative effects on your hormones, exercise performances, and brain functions. Many people are facing sleeping disorders in the world and some of them even know about that. Also, many of us regularly toss and turn at night, struggling to get the sleep we need.

There are all kinds of things that can disrupt your sleep like your daily schedule, your working hours, certain medications, an uncomfortable sleep environment, or changes to your normal sleep schedule (like jet lag or a different work schedule) can make it harder to nod off, too.

Why Do I Keep Waking up at Night?

If you keep waking up at night, it could be caused by various things. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons:

1. Sleep Apnea

It is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. This is a common reason for waking in the middle of the night. It causes shallow breathing, which may cause a person to wake up several times per night. Some people are not even realized that their sleep is interrupted or break. A person who has sleep apnea may notice symptoms such as:

  • Headaches in the morning
  • Gasping for air at night
  • Daytime tiredness
  • Snoring
  • Difficulty concentrating during the day
Treatment and Remedies

If sleep apnea is a cause or likely to cause frequently waking up in the middle of the night, a healthcare provider/doctor will probably refer the person to a sleep center. They may also advise or recommend a treatment plan to address sleep apnea.

Best treatment options available are undergoing surgery, using airway pressure devices, or trying oral appliances that help open the airways.

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2. Insomnia

It means a condition wherein a person finds it difficult or impossible to fall or stay asleep or Waking up in the middle of the night is called insomnia, and it’s a common problem. People who have insomnia don’t feel as if they get enough sleep at night. It may have many possible causes like-stress, anxiety, depression, poor sleep habits, daytime tiredness, etc.

Its symptoms include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Frequent wake-ups during the night
  • Waking up too early in the morning
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
Treatment and Remedies
  • Start doing meditation or yoga
  • Do not eat heavy or spicy meals before bed
  • Doing regular exercise
  • Do not nap during the day
  • Make your bedroom conducive to sleep

3. Anxiety, Stress, Depression, or Worry

These can cause insomnia. Yes, it is so true that insomnia can cause because of these conditions. Both anxiety and depression makes it difficult for a person to calm their mind or shut down their thinking processes. This can make it hard for a person to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Treatment and Remedies

People suffering from these conditions should consult with their health care providers or doctors. Home remedies or techniques for anxiety and depression are:

  • Playing/listening to soft songs or calm music.
  • Exercising regularly
  • Reducing the number of tasks to do
  • Meditating
  • Creating a calming environment in the bedroom

4. Consuming Caffeine Late in the Day

Caffeine is a tonic that can make it harder to fall asleep. A single dosage can increase focus, energy and sports performance.

However, when consumed late in the day, coffee stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night. So stop consuming more caffeine in a day to get better and calm sleep at night.

5. Your Exposure to Light

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Your brain produces more melatonin when it’s dark—making you sleepy—and less when it’s light—making you more conscious.

Exposure to bright lights just before bed might affect your quality and quantity of sleep. So turn off all mobile screen lights before bed and avoid all artificial lights before bed, it helps you fall asleep at night.

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6. Indigestion

Eating some spicy food, junk food or unhealthy food just around bedtime can also create sleep issues. Indigestion causes uncomfortable bloating and gas make it difficult to fall asleep at night and even and it may wake someone up in the middle of the night.

To avoid the indigestion problem,  eat healthy and light food at night. If you want to eat heavy or spicy food, do it earlier in the day and not before or around bedtime. This may help you to have good sleep at night.

7. Your Bedroom/Sleep Environment

One of the possible reasons that you are not getting enough sleep is that your bedroom environment is not properly optimized. Factors include the temperature, noise, external lights, and furniture arrangement, etc.

You can improve the sleep environment by doing these:

  • Minimize disturbing or external noises
  • Keep it dark and cool
  • Ban work from the bedroom
  • Reduce light and artificial lights from devices like alarm clocks
  • Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, relaxing, clean and enjoyable place
  • Don’t overheat your bedroom temperature

How Do I Stay Asleep Through the Night?

To stay asleep through the night and get some good rest, start trying these:

1. Take a Warm Bath

Just before or around bedtime, take a warm bath, it helps to drop down the body temperature and may help you to feel tired. It can also help you to relax and calm and slow down, so, you are ready to go to bed. Studies show that they can improve overall sleep quality and helped people get more deep sleep.

2. Make a Habit of Regular Exercise or Can Do Meditation or Yoga

If you are spending your whole day watching TV, playing games on mobile phones or tablets, etc, it can make you lazy and inactive. And this usually makes it pretty difficult to fall asleep at night.

Active people tend to get better sleep at night.[1] Hence, by exercising or doing yoga, you can reduce stress and anxiety—which in itself might help increase sleep time by more than 20%.

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Don’t do exercise just before bedtime though, it could affect sleep.

3. Eat Healthy Foods to Promote Sleep

Make a habit of eating healthy foods and fruits and avoid eating spicy food, junk food.

To help you sleep better, you can eat these:

  • Cherries
  • Bananas
  • Low-fat cottage cheese
  • Salmon
  • Toast
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Spinach

4. Improve Your Sleep Environment

As mentioned in the last section, a peaceful and good sleep environment sends a powerful signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down and let go of the day’s stresses.

Make sure your room temperature is not too cold or hot as it affects your sleep too.

To get good quality sleep, do these things:

  • Keep your room cool
  • Keep noise down
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable
  • Reduce all external noises like traffic noise, etc.

5. Create a Bedtime Routine

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps to fall asleep quicker. And to bring that feeling of sleepiness, it helps to have a quiet bedtime routine.

Bedtime routines have two serve purposes: it is meant to be relaxing and calming, not so exciting, and it helps to form a behavioral association and gives signals to the brain to feel you sleepy.

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Here’s How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier.

6. Take Time to Relax and Calm Your Body

Take a deep breath before going to bed, calm and relax your body. It helps to reduce all-day stress and calm down your mind which may make you fall asleep fast. If you watch TV around bedtime or use mobile phones, switch it off for some time and calm yourself down before going to bed.

7. Rule Out a Sleep Disorder

An underlying health condition may be the cause of your sleep problems. One of the causes is sleep apnea which causes inconsistent and interrupted breathing, and disturbs your sleep at night. People with this disorder stop breathing repeatedly while sleeping. If you any have symptoms of this disorder, you must consult a doctor immediately.

The Bottom Line

Sleep plays a crucial part in your health. Conserving energy, healing the body, consolidating memories, and regulating emotions are some of the key reasons why we sleep. Studies say that due to inadequate sleep, obesity risk is increased in children by 89% and in adults by 55%.[2] Other research concludes that sleeping less than 6 hours per night enhances your risk of developing heart disease.[3]

So besides nutrition and exercise, sleep is a major pillar of overall health and well being, and you should take steps to ensure that you always get a good night’s sleep.

More Tips to Help You Sleep Better

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference

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