Eating out is a huge part of our American lifestyle…
…not only for families and friends, but for many people who travel often as part of a job requirement.
And I know that ordering healthy at restaurants can be VERY CHALLENGING and TEMPTING, especially if the people who you’re with are ordering greasy, fat-packed foods.
But when restaurant servings are really designed for someone like Big Foot, sodas are in supertanker-like cups and vegetables are replaced with fried anything, it’s very important to have a simple strategy and mindset going in to help you avoid slipping into a dangerous eating-out frenzy.
To help, here are 9 tips on how to make restaurant ordering a little more healthy and simple:
- Know the healthy food descriptions.
Almost every menu contains chicken or fish cooked in a healthy way. Look for words like “grilled,” “broiled,” or “steamed,” and avoid “sautéed” and “fried.” And choose the leaner cuts of meats. For example, beef or bison tenderloin is leaner than a T-bone or prime prime rib. Chicken and turkey breast are even leaner.
- Forgo the breadbasket.
Having it on the table (especially when you’re super hungry) just temps you to eat it. Opt for nothing or crudités and/or olives instead.
- Skip the appetizer.
Some appetizers can contain more than 1,000 calories! So beware that’s not an appetizer—that’s a full meal and more! If you really want one, ask your table if they’d be willing to split one of the healthier options like a salad, bruschetta, ceviche, or anything that’s light on sauce and heavy on fruits, veggies, or lean protein.
- Order dressing on the side.
Whether you’re ordering a salad on the side or as your dinner, ensure to have your dressing served on the side. Also, avoid any white dressings, which are usually heavy cream or fat based. Instead, go for citrus or olive oil based dressings.
- If you’re ordering pasta, go whole wheat with red sauce.
White sauce is normally made with fatty butter, cream and cheese and white pasta is processed. So a better choice is whole grain/wheat with a tomato based sauce. And watch the cheese!
- Visualize your plate.
Manage your ordering so you can have about 1/4 protein, 1/2 veggies, and 1/4 complex starchy carbohydrates.
- Pass on the cocktails.
Say what?! Yup, I said it! Instead, opt for sparkling or flat water with lemon or lime. Most cocktails have loads of sugar thanks to both the juices and the alcohol. Avoiding sugar is one of the ways to stay on target with our nutritional goals. BUT, if you’re going to order an alcoholic beverage, red wine or vodka soda with lime are the cleaner choices.
If you’re out with friends or it’s a special occasion, than suggest sharing a dessert with the table. Then take a bite or two and put your spoon down. If you’re still craving something sweet when you get home, enjoy some yogurt with berries, a piece of fruit or sugar-free jello.
- Plan Ahead.
This is one of my favorite tips. Pretty much every single restaurant out there includes their menu online and many with nutritional facts. Take 5 minutes to review it BEFORE you leave your house. You’ll already have tips 1-8 completed by the time you get to the restaurant and you’ll be less likely to be tempted because you have already make up your mind.