It’s inevitable. At some point, you will need to eat out. This could be dinner with friends, family, or both. It could also be due to travel or vacation. You need to be prepared so you can make good choices. Be proactive, not reactive or you will likely throw your hands up and say “Cheat meal!” or “Cheat week!” and you will be cheating—-cheating yourself mostly. I’m here with some tips to help you stay on track even when ordering from a menu instead of cooking in your kitchen.
1. Keep it simple. Don’t order the messy sandwich or the entrée covered in sauce. You will spend most of the meal making sure you don’t drip your meal on your shirt or lap instead of being able to enjoy the time and relax. Choose something you could make at home.
2. Keep it real. I’m taking about portions. The size of meals in restaurants these days are out of control and way oversized which is one of the causes of weight gain. Ask for a take home box to be brought with your meal when it’s ready. Immediately put half of it in the box to take home then enjoy the other half at the restaurant. BONUS: You have lunch the next day! You just got 2 meals for the price of one.
3. Keep it green. Order a salad rich in dark green leafy lettuces like spinach and arugula, topped with lots of colorful veggies. Eat this while waiting on your main course so you are sure to get some veggies in! AND order triple the veggies with your main course and skip the starchy sides!
4. Keep it grilled—or roasted. Skip the fried foods. Ask for it to be grilled or roasted instead. Most restaurants will accommodate special requests. You just have to ASK.
5. Keep informed. Check the menu from your home computer or smart phone. A little preparation goes a long way. If there aren't any options you like then you can choose a different restaurant before arriving.
6. Keep reading (between the lines) Any menu description that uses the words creamy, breaded, crisp, sauced, or stuffed is likely loaded with hidden fats—much of it saturated or even trans fats. It is not likely they are using coconut or avocado oil. Other “beware of” words include: buttery, sautéed, pan-fried, au gratin, Thermidor, Newburg, Parmesan, cheese sauce, scalloped, and au lait, à la mode, or au fromage (with milk, ice cream, or cheese).
7. Keep the table clear—-of the bread basket. Tell the waiter/waitress not to bring it. This is unhealthy carbs that spike blood sugar and load on the pounds plus fill you up with non-nutritive ingredients. Keep your appetite for the main course which you have carefully selected.
8. Keep the soda (AWAY from the table!) Opt for water instead! But don’t fill up on it; This slows down digestion. Drink before you eat and take sips during your meal.
9. Keep the sweets in the kitchen. Don’t order dessert. Just don’t.
10. Keep swimming.. Try the fish! Just make sure it’s wild caught and not farmed (yuck) Farmed fish are more likely to be genetically modified and/or fed GMO feed. Ewwww!
Truthfully, there aren’t a lot of options for those of us looking for making wise decisions about what we consume, but I do believe that’s changing. If you’re traveling look for local places; It’s not a guarantee, but many local restaurant owners will often source their food from local farmers. Jason’s Deli, is a chain, but has some healthier options. Their salad bar is pretty awesome! Chipotle and Panera are some good options as well.
Happy eating! Remember, be a good steward of the body you’ve been given and it will serve you well!