It can feel like a minefield of high-fat, high-calorie, super-salty, sugar-laden choices at some restaurants, but whether you’re trying to lose weight or just maintain a healthy diet, you can eat healthy when dining out, almost anywhere, if you make the right choices.
Here are some tips to help make your dining-out experience both tasty and good for you:
- Ask for water, fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, or other drinks without added sugars.
- Start your meal with a salad packed with vegetables. Ask for salad dressing to be served on the side. Then use only as much as you want.
- Choose main dishes that include vegetables, such as stir fries, kebobs, or pasta with a tomato sauce.
- Order steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes instead of those that are fried or sautéed.
- Order an item from the menu instead heading for the “all-you-can-eat” buffet.
- Ask for it your way. Most restaurants will be happy to accommodate special preparation requests.
- Beware of the low-carb options. Low-carb doesn’t mean low-cal.
- Ask to box half your entrée before it ever gets to the table, or split an entrée with your dining partner. Restaurants often serve two to three times more than food labels list as a serving.
- Check the menu before you leave home. You can decide what to order or pick another restaurant.
- Any description that uses the words creamy, breaded, crisp, sauced, or stuffed is likely loaded with hidden saturated or trans fats. Other “beware of” words include: buttery, sautéed, pan-fried, au gratin, Thermidor, Newburg, Parmesan, cheese sauce, scalloped, and au lait, à la mode, or au fromage (with milk, ice cream, or cheese).
- Skip fancy drinks. Opt for a glass of wine, a light beer, a vodka and tonic, or a simple martini.
- Drink water throughout the meal. It slows you down, helps you enjoy the food more, and lets the message get to your brain that you’re full—before your plate is empty.
- Skip the dessert. You can always have some sorbet or even a piece of chocolate at home.
For more information on how to make good choices when dining out, go to: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/DiningOut/Dining-Out_UCM_304183_SubHomePage.jsp