Choosing to dine out doesn’t have to mean pushing healthy eating habits to the side. Try following the tips below and planning ahead to stay on track even when dining out.
1. Know menu terms. Choose steamed, baked, broiled, or grilled items over fried or sautéed items. Avoid foods with descriptions such as crispy, rich, or au gratin.
2. Try to incorporate all food groups to create a balanced meal of protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and grains.
3. For salads, choose low-fat dressing and have the dressing served on the side so you can control how much is used. Skip some of the extra toppings like croutons to avoid additional, less nutritious calories.
4. For sandwiches, choose low-fat toppings like lettuce, tomato, or onion. Put your own condiments on to control how much is used, and ask for whole wheat bread instead of white for additional nutrients.
5. Choose healthy side dishes to make a balanced meal such as a side salad, baked potato, or fruit. Add veggies or salsa to baked potatoes for more vitamins, minerals, and flavor without the extra calories.
6. Substitute a side salad with low-fat dressing instead of French fries as a side dish.
7. Many restaurant portion sizes are large. Ask for a to-go container at the beginning of the meal and put half of what is served in the container before eating. Save the leftovers for another meal.
8. Most restaurants now have lower calorie meal options. Choose one of these options, as the portion sizes are typically smaller, or try ordering from the appetizer menu for a smaller portion.
9. Choose water, milk, unsweetened tea or other beverages without added sugars to minimize additional empty calories.
10. Eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to recognize that you are full. If you tend to eat quickly you are more likely to overeat.
For restaurant specific calorie or nutrient information, try using a restaurant nutrition app or checking out the restaurant’s website prior to going out. Be sure to try these tips the next time you dine out to keep your healthy eating habits in check!