Guidelines to Follow for Making Healthy Choices When You Dine Out

Are you making healthy choices when you dine out? (iStock photo)
Are you making healthy choices when you dine out? (iStock photo)

If you’re one of the many Americans who has resolved to lose weight and become fitter and healthier in 2015, then I’d be willing to bet that “eating out less” is also one of your New Year’s goals, and for good reason. Studies have shown that we are much more likely to eat poorly at restaurants than at home.

Eating in groups, from plates even Goliath would have found oversized, before endless breadbaskets and tempting bowls of chips, all under dim lighting all add up to excessive caloric consumption, not to mention that sickening sensation of guilt (maybe mixed with a little indigestion, too) that lingers long after your last sip of soda or spoonful of dessert.

After a few dietary blunders while dining out, one might come to the conclusion that restaurants should be off limits entirely, or perhaps reserved for super-special occasions, such as round-numbered birthdays and golden anniversaries.

“My diet was going well all day, but then I had a crazy day, stayed late at work, and only had enough time to grab (insert fast food chain here) for lunch. And that was a train wreck, needless to say; I mean, it is fast food, after all.”

“My husband wanted to surprise me with a midweek dinner at (insert favorite steakhouse here). I had no choice but to throw healthy eating out the window. It’s just the way it goes.”

I have been hearing the above two statements repeated over and over again—with slight variations, of course—for years now. There seems to be a common belief among the health-minded community that if you’re going to a restaurant, you might as well go whole hog and eat like, well, a hog, because eating well outside the home is, purportedly, a near Herculean task. But this simply isn’t true. Below, I’m going to give you six tips on how to stay on track when eating out.

1. Consider your options. When given the choice as to which restaurant to go to, try to think of ones that you know offer healthy items, for instance, fresh salads, steamed veggies, and grilled or baked—not fried!—meat or fish. Personally, I’m a fan of steakhouses, seafood restaurants, Japanese and Mediterranean establishments, even breakfasts joints, where I know good protein sources and healthy, satisfying fats await! And remember, even fast food restaurants offer healthy options these days, so don’t resign yourself to chicken nuggets or a Big Mac if fast food’s your only option!

2. Do your research. OK, now that you’ve made your selection, it’s time—if you have time, that is—to scout the menu. Before you leave, or on your way to the restaurant, Google it and pick out the appetizers and entrées that interest you most. Seeing that that the burger you want boasts 850 calories or that the calamari has 300 (per serving!) may convince you to change your mind and order lighter fare instead. And if you must have the burger (We all need a good burger once in a while!), have in mind which ingredients you can ask the server to 86, such as bacon, cheddar cheese or mayo.

If you don’t have time to look up the nutrition info, read the menu when you arrive, pick out what appears to be both healthy and appetizing, then ask yourself if you would prepare this for yourself at home. If the answer is yes, order it as is. If the answer is no, then think of ways it can be altered to suit your preferences (lettuce wrap instead of a bread bun, for example, or a side salad instead of French fries). Most restaurants are more than happy to accommodate all kinds of dietary needs, including your need to lead a healthy lifestyle! Don’t be afraid to speak up.

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SOURCE: Charisma News
Diana Anderson-Tyler

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