How To Stay Healthy When You're Dining Out This Summer

When summer rolls around, I don't want any obligations.

I want to work just enough to keep collecting my paycheck, then leave the office behind and frolic in the glorious sunlight. I also want to spend a minimal amount of time in my apartment. Why would I want to waste the precious summer hours by scrubbing my bathtub or dusting my apartment?

And you know what I really don't want to do? Cook.

I mean, my apartment is roughly 1,000 degrees during the summer. Can you blame me? Why would I hang out in a sauna, sweating while making my own food, when I could be sitting on a shaded patio consuming food someone else has made for me?

I want to eat out in the summertime. Period. The problem is that I also want to look good in my swimsuit, and eating out doesn't have the best reputation for your health.

Yet recently I learned that frequenting restaurants doesn't have to mean sacrificing your health. So, if you're like me and eat out all the time in the summer, here are nine ways you can do it and stay healthy.

Instead of an entrée, order an appetizer or side for your meal.

One of the biggest problems with eating out is the insane portion size you get at most eateries. While it makes you feel good about getting value for your money, your waistline is screwed if you eat the whole thing.

Instead, order an app or side as your meal. The portion is smaller, which will keep you from overeating.

Order a side salad as a substitute for fries.

A side of fries used to be a special feature on fast food menus. But these days, it seems like every restaurant offers you a pile of fried potatoes with your meal. Resist the urge and ask for a side salad instead.

If you do want fries, get a side for the table to split.

I know, sometimes you NEED those fries. Trust me, I get it. But instead of getting your own heaping helping, order a side of fries for the table to split. You'll satiate your craving without overindulging.

Set aside a portion of your meal to take home.

Similar to ordering an app for your entrée, this one is all about portion size.

If you set aside a part of your meal in a takeout container when you START eating, you'll forget there's more food than what is in front of you. That will trick your mind into thinking you finished your food, leaving you satisfied. It's all about the mind games.

Choose greens over grains.

This is a simple way to get any meal you want, but health-ify it. (FYI, I'm coining "health-ify" as your new wellness term for 2016. You're welcome, world.)

Real life application of this principle: If you love eggs benedict, have your eggs over greens instead of an English muffin. If you can't say no to that burger, have it in a lettuce wrap instead of a bun. It will alleviate your food guilt.

Choose the dessert that does the least damage.

FRUIT. If there's a dessert with fruit, then that is what you should order. You'll be able to walk away having satisfied your sweet craving, but without feeling slovenly.

For your entrée, choose protein, not carbs.

Basically, choose the chicken or the fish, NOT the pasta. Protein will help you to stay lean and avoid the food coma.

Go for a long walk while you digest.

If you're on a date, a long walk will give you a chance to be romantic after dinner. If you're with your best friends, it'll give you a chance to dish more about that girl who's flirting with your ex on Instagram. (There's ALWAYS one.)

The best part: It'll make you feel exponentially better than you would sitting for hours in that after-dinner movie.

Give in to your cravings once in a while.

Everything in moderation isn't just a saying — it's a way of life.

Staying healthy in the summer isn't about depriving your taste buds. It's about weighing those indulgent moments with healthful meals.

So do get that vanilla cone from the soft-serve truck on the corner – just do it after eating a Mediterranean salad.