Tip #10: Dining out without ditching your goals
There seems to be a time when eating out was saved only for special occasions. With our busy lives and repeated social gatherings, having meals at a restaurant is a lot more common these days. For this reason it is important that we change our views on choosing our foods when outside the home. If we “splurge” every time we eat out, our health and fitness goals will be affected. Choose foods you like but be wise about what condiments you add, how foods are prepared, the size of your portions as well as the beverages you order. Of course there will be special occasions to enjoy a little more of the extras; save them for those times you really need to celebrate! Here are some ideas to guide you when looking at those menus:
- Share those higher calorie and food items like fried appetizers and creamy dips.
- Don’t forget your vegetables. Get double portions if you can!
- Choose lean proteins like fish, chicken breast and round or loin cuts of beef.
- Ask for your meats to be grilled or baked.
- Substitute your fried or butter-loaded side dish for some fruit, steamed veggies, baked potato or side salad.
- Get familiar with healthier cooking methods. Foods that are baked, broiled, steamed or grilled tend to be better choices.
- Ask how your dishes are prepared and what ingredients they use. Do they add butter, creams or oils (usually listed as “rich”, “au gratin”, “creamy”)? Do they fry or sauté them? You have the right to know.
- Don’t be shy! I know that at least once you have asked them to skip the onions or other item you are not a fan off. Feel free to tell your server you would like to skip the mayo, butter, oil, etc.; it will save you a decent number of calories.
- When ordering a salad, ask for the salad dressing on the side. This will allow you to manage how much you add. Most of the time they over do it! You can do the same with gravies and sauces.
- Consider skipping some of the extras like the croutons on the salad, the bacon on the sandwiches and the sour cream on a baked potato. Add extra vegetables instead – they will enhance the flavor, change the texture and boost you with extra vitamins and minerals.
- Take your leftovers to go! Don’t feel like you have to finish your meal. Most restaurants offer portions that are too big. Splitting an entree is another great option.
- Stick with non-calorie containing beverages. Soda, juice, punch or sweetened tea (especially when free refills are included) are an easy way to sabotage your wellness efforts!
- If choosing alcoholic beverages do so in moderation and avoid those calorie-loaded cocktails.
- Be wise about the pre-meal offerings like chips and salsa, bread and butter or appetizers. If you choose to include those as part of your meal, place a portion on your plate and eat from that.
March is National Nutrition Month! We have committed to do 14 blog posts that tackle an important topic in food and nutrition. To see all the posts we have done including some from previous years, click on “National Nutrition Month” under blog category.