While eating out may be the preferred option for those on the go, getting a healthy meal or choosing healthy options can often be a challenge. Some will resort to taking an appetite suppressant. Many associate traditional home-made meals with proper nutrition, but there are many healthy ways to approach the dining out experience that can pay healthy dividends. Here are some helpful tips for navigating the restaurant world successfully:
1. Choose water: Water is free, and is a better beverage choice than many beverages that contain plentiful amounts of sugar or caffeine. If you do order tea for example, make sure to ask for unsweetened. Many people often forget to take fluid calories into account in their daily intake, choosing water, especially for daytime meals will help you stay on track.
2. Avoid fried foods: If there is an option for baked, broiled, or steamed, go for that. It goes without saying that while frying may make foods taste really good, it is really bad for you. Saturated fats add additional calories to meals making calorie counts soar, and the extra fat is hard on the body’s digestive processes.
3. Order a salad or appetizer first: Choosing a nice garden salad or non-fried appetizer is a good way to cut down on the size of your main dish. Filling up a bit with water and salad before your meal will not only cleanse the palate but will take the edge off of your hunger and you will subsequently eat less of the main dish. Because most main dishes are where the bulk of the rich calories are found, you may be able to choose a healthier, smaller main dish portion. Also don’t forget to ask for your dressing on the side.
4. Avoid buffets: This is a no-brainer. Unlimited food options and portion size doesn’t usually lead to good decision making for anyone trying to make healthy choices. In fact there are usually very few healthy options in any buffet. And salad bars aren’t too much better as half of the spread is usually devoted to covering up the salad with fat or sugar. So when it comes to ordering your meal, stick to the regular menu.
5. Skip the creamy sauces: Yes they taste great, but that is because they are made with a boatload of fat. The body craves fat because it has twice the caloric density of either carbs or protein. An optimal treat if you don’t know here your next meal is coming from, but today you probably know exactly where you want your next meal to come from. So skip the alfredo sauce and choose a healthier, lighter option.
6. Get a fruit dessert: This is an easy way to remove 400 calories or so from your meal. Did you know that your average slice of cheesecake has 500 calories per slice? And a 6 oz serving of fresh strawberries has 50 calories? So the “real” dessert has 10 times the calories. Choosing a fruit dessert can satisfy your sweet tooth without destroying your diet. It may be a little easier to prepare healthy meals from home, but let’s face it, eating out is just more fun. A greater variety of food choices and unique restaurant experiences with family and friends make dining out a fun option any day of the week.
Follow these helpful tips to make your dining experience a healthy one. Bon appetite!