Eating out can be healthy & wholesome, but it can also be the undoing of your weight-loss efforts. London has more top restaurants than practically any other capital city in the world, so there's temptation everywhere. Fortunately, there are more and more healthy eating outlets and restaurants in our capital.
Top tip: Make sure you plan where you'll eat in advance, so you don't end up in a restaurant with zero healthy options. But if you plan ahead, there are many top restaurants in London which have healthy options on the menu. Fish or lean steak are good options, with new potatoes and vegetables.
London is full of way too many junk food outlets, and still not enough healthy options, although this is improving with the arrival of places like Vital Ingredients, and Pod, two healthy eating outlets in the City. Pod won a lunch retailer award a few years ago.
126 Whitecross Street, London EC1Y 8PU
Tel: 020 8127 0260
Salads to take away, with chicken or halloumi, and a range of home-made dressings
This great fast food outlet offers a range of scrambled eggs, toasted sandwiches (such as the avocado & chilli), organic porridge (with inca berries, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, and agave), and their famous supergreen detox blitz (spinach, broccoli, kale, mango, leek, ginger, lemon juice).
Vital Ingredients is a fantastic lunch option for London's office workers. They offer a vast range of salad ingredients, put together right in front of you. There's also a selection of hot and cold breakfasts, soups, wraps, smoothies and juices. Vital Ingredients' first store was opened in Soho in 2001, and they've gone from strength to strength since then, with 12 outlets throughout London:
36 Berwick Street W1F 8RR
18A Maddox Street W1S 1PL
6 Vigo Street W1S 3HF
2-5 Holborn Viaduct EC1A 2AA
1 Garlick Hill, Mansion House EC4A 2AB
56 London Wall EC2M 5TR
36 Eastcastle Street W1W 8DP
78-81 Fetter Lane EC4A 1EN
13 Baker Street W1U 8EG
28-30 Houndsditch EC3A 7DB
47-50 Margaret Street W1W 8SD
2 Trump Street EC2V 8AF
As a personal trainer in London, my clients often ask me where I eat out, and what I eat when I go to restaurants. The short answer is: I never eat from junk-food outlets! One of my recent favourites is Pho, the Vietnamese street food restaurant, which offers a range of noodle soups with beef, chicken or prawns, and plenty of healthy ingredients such as fresh corriander, fresh chillis, and beansprouts.
I hope this page will help you find restaurants in London that offer healthy options, and provide some handy tips on what to order.
A good option for a light lunch is sushi. If you like sushi, my all-time favourite sushi restaurant in London is Dinings, a small restaurant off the Edgware Road (22 Harcourt Street, London W1H 4HH, tel - 020 7723 0666. Nearest tube: Edgware Road). You can't go far wrong with sushi, as long as you stick to moderate portions. This fish, rice and vegetable-based food is packed with nutrients and low in saturated fat. Try their range of Japenese teas, rich in antioxidants. My only criticism of sushi is the white rice, which is high on the glycaemic index, so the insulin response is quite sharp. Brown rice is healthier, because of the 'slow release' effect of glucose into the bloodstream.
As a personal trainer, it's great to see the arrival of a new healthy eating restaurant and takeaway, Gym's Kitchen (388-392 High Road, Leyton, London E10 6QE). It's an informal restaurant which serves tasty fresh & healthy grilled meats and vegetables. They also serve protein shakes so it's a perfect place to visit straight after hitting the gym.
If you're looking for the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in London, click the link.
Top tip: Before you go out, eat a light healthy snack, so you're not starving when you arrive at the restaurant. A small bowl of cereal, or low-fat cottage cheese on a slice of wholemeal toast, should keep the hunger pangs at bay. You're much less likely to over-eat this way.
And pace yourself when you're eating. Put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls, and really taste the flavours rather than shovelling it down like a pig.
Your body can't burn fat when there's alcohol in your system, and alcohol converts to fat very easily. So if you're trying to lose weight, cut down on the alcohol. If there are only two of you eating, why not order just one glass of wine each, rather than a whole bottle? And ask for a jug of tap water - a much healthier way to quench your thirst.
If you're offered bread, choose wholemeal or at least brown. And opt for a small bowl of olive oil to dip your bread into, rather than butter. If the waiter doesn't bring olive oil, ask for it.
Soups and broths are a good option, but avoid soups with cream in them. And smoked salmon with asparagus or other vegetables make a healthy starter. Avoid rich, calorie dense starters like pate or any dish with processed meat/sausage/chorizo.
If there is a wide range of healthy starters, why not select two starters, and tell the waiter you'll have the second starter as your main course (but starter size).
Lean cuts of meat are ideal, such as fillet or sirloin steak. And oily fish such as salmon is even better, a great source of protein, low in saturated fat and high in omega 3 'good fats'. Ask for the fish to come without any sauce. Chicken breast is a healthy option, as long as you don't eat the skin. Chicken skin is higher in saturated fat than the fattiest cuts of red meat.
Instead of chips, mashed potatoes, or anything deep fried, choose boiled new potatoes, or bulgar wheat, or rice.
Always order several side-orders of vegetables, and ask for them not to come with dressing or cooked in butter.
If you're determined to have a rich pudding, why not order just one and share it?
Ideal puddings for losing weight are fruit salads, and sorbets.
And instead of a coffee at the end, opt for mint tea or green tea, which is much healthier for you.
If you can recommend a London restaurant where you were able to eat healthily and enjoy it, please click here to contact me and tell me where you went and what you ate. I'll add your recommendations to this page so everyone can benefit.