Eating Out: How
to Keep it Healthy
Pierson, ACE Certified Personal
Eating out should be an enjoyable and relaxing
experience. It's convenient, we get a break from cooking and it allows us
to taste new dishes. Unfortunately, most restaurant food is packed with far
more fat, salt, and sugar than home cooking—that
translates to a whopping number of additional calories!
Here are some tips that will help make your
meal healthier while allowing you to enjoy your dining experience.
Watch your portion size. Reduce the
size of your meal by getting a to-go bag or box with the meal and put
half of it in the bag before you start to eat. Share your meal with
another person or order a salad and an appetizer instead of a full
Avoid creamy dishes. If you'd like
soup, select a broth-based soup instead.
Have all extras put on the side.
This goes for butter, sour cream, salad dressings, gravies, sauces,
etc. Dip the tip of your utensil in the side item just prior to taking
a bite. You will get the flavor of the side item with each bite without
bathing your food in the additional calories.
Choose the right preparation.
Selections that are broiled, baked, steamed, dry-sautéed, poached or
grilled are healthier alternatives. Just be sure to ask for your meat
and vegetables "dry." Many restaurants baste meat and vegetables with
butter or oil prior to serving to increase flavor.
Select entrees with fruit or vegetables
as their main ingredients. Not only are they lower in calories, but
they are higher in fiber as well. Go for all colors of the rainbow on
Seafood and white meat poultry are
healthier selections. Ask that all visible fat or skin is removed
If you order pasta, stick whole grain.
Request a marinara-based sauce instead of cream-based.
Steer clear of buffet-style eating.
Buffets and all-you-can eat restaurants generally get even the
healthiest eater in trouble.
Select entrees that are flavored with
spices and fresh herbs. These are more likely to have lower
fat content. For example, this philosophy is used in Latin America or
Keep beverages unsweetened. Order
water, diet soda, or unsweetened tea or coffee for your beverages.
If you are having a cocktail, keep it to
a minimum. One or two light cocktails at the most, if at all.
Besides containing a lot of empty calories, alcohol reduces our resolve
to eat healthier selections and you can end up ordering items that
aren't in your favor.
Pass on the bread basket. Or, ask
that the bread be delivered with the meal and don't allow them to
re-fill it. If you have a choice, select a whole grain bread. Use
butter sparingly, if at all.
Select healthy side items. If you
get a choice of side items, select a salad (beware of cheese and
croutons), broth-based soup, vegetables, brown rice, sweet potato, or
baked potato (try salsa on the potato instead of butter and sour
cream.) Avoid side items that are fried, creamed, and smothered in
sauces and cheese.
If you want dessert, select a fruit or
sorbet style dessert. Or, order a non-fat cappuccino with cinnamon
to complete your meal.
Watch the salt content whenever possible.
If you're dining on Asian cuisine, ask for a reduced sodium soy sauce.
When eating sandwiches, select whole
grain bread. Hold the mayo or any "special sauces" because they are
generally filled with fat. Skip the cheese and add additional
vegetables for flavor. Flavored mustards are an excellent way to add
flavor to a sandwich as well. Remember that chicken and tuna salad
sandwiches are made with mayonnaise, so you'll want to avoid them.
Avoid croissants, biscuits, potpies,
quiches, and pastries. They are all are all packed with fat and
When eating pizza, opt for a thin,
whole wheat crust and pile it high with vegetables.
Many restaurants offer healthy
selections in their menus. Look for them whenever possible and
customize them further with the above tips to suit your needs.
Don't be afraid to ask your server
questions or make low-calorie requests for your entree. Any
establishment that truly values its patrons will be pleased to honor
Be mindful of your eating. Pay
attention to what your eating and savor the flavors, put your utensil
down between bites to slow down, and stop before you're full. It takes
20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full.
Don't deprive yourself. All food
can fit in a healthy, well-balance eating plan.
Think of dining out in the context of your
entire eating plan. If it's a special occasion and you want to splurge a
little, then do it. Just be sure to make really healthy choices earlier
that day or the next day to compensate for the additional calories. And if
necessary, spend a little more time doing some extra cardio during your next
Managing Your Weight
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