Representational image.Creative Commons.

The choice between enjoying a lavish and much-deserved eating out at a restaurant with friends and keeping our diet plan intact is never easy. As much as one looks forward to the former, it is always curbed by the need to maintain the latter.

Also read: Red wine helps reduce the few extra pounds gained over the holidays? Find out how!

Not anymore, says Australian food blogger Leah Itsines. Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, she shares a number of ways to enjoy a fun night out with friends or family, indulging in restaurants while eating healthy and sticking to your diet goals at the same time.

1. Ask for salad dressings on the side.

salad dressing
Representational image.Creative Commons.

While most people blindly consider salads as the healthy option, the fact that it comes out immersed in a creamy dressing is not actually the healthy choice. Leah suggests requesting the dressing to be provided as a side, thereby selecting the proportion we want to indulge in.

"That way, you'll be able to choose how much you want and lower your intake. Also, if you can, swap creamy dressings for a light lemon or balsamic, this way it won't be super heavy."

2. Choose water over alcohol

Representational image.Creative Commons.

No matter how intense the desire to splurge on drinks might be, there's no denying that it absolutely blows up the calories count. Leah explained that one gin and tonic has 200 calories, meaning having five in one night can is basically reaching the entire calorie intake for a day.

"I opt for water during my meals so it keeps the food digesting, and leaves me feeling hydrated and refreshed," she said.

3. Always a good idea to do some homework

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Checking the menu in advance and being prepared for the options will always help to make better choices once you're actually there, claims Leah. Also, it reduces the fuss about not having anything to order from.

She added: "It's always great to be prepared so when you get to your restaurant, you don't feel pressured to just order something that's easy rather than a great healthy choice. This is also a great tip for vegetarians or people with any food allergies - always come prepared."

4. Grilled over fried or battered

grilled food
Representational image.Creative Commons.

A little-known fact is that it is often the method of cooking that is unhealthy, rather than the food itself. Leah suggests ensuring beforehand how the food will be prepared, even if it is proteins.

"Always check as some places can say 'crispy chicken', but they really mean oily and deep fried. I always opt for my meats to be grilled, as this is the least oily and fatty method."

5. Fresh sauces over cream based

Representational image.Creative Commons.

When ordering pasta or salads, it is always best to steer away from creamy sauces, just like with salad dressing mentioned previously.

"I always order pasta with a fresh tomato and basil sauce," shared Leah. "It's light, tasty and won't leave you feeling like you're about to explode."

6. Health claims are NOT healthy choices

Health claims such as 'low carb', 'light', and 'low fat' are "usually packed full of something else to make up the flavour," reminds Leah. "Typically, 'low fat' yoghurt is packed full of extra sugars to cover the taste."