It’s always fun to go out to dine. But restaurant menus can be a hidden minefield of calories and fat disguised as “healthy” fare. Learn how to dine out and eat healthy.
It’s easy to eat healthy at home where you can control what you buy, how you cook it, and how big a portion you put on your plate. But too often when we go out to dine, we’re either served gigantic portions that could feed a family of four for a week or we make “healthy” choices that turn out to be heart attacks on a plate.
Salad’s a healthy choice, right? Well … McDonald’s Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken contains 17 g fat and 970 mg sodium. Wendy’s Apple Pecan Chicken Salad contains 40 g sugar, 27 g fat, and a whopping 1,350 mg sodium. So what’s a health-conscious eater to do?
These 10 tips will ensure that dining out is pleasurable and healthy.
1. Ask for dressing on the side.
This allows you to control how much dressing you use. Choose a simple vinaigrette rather than a creamy ranch dressing.
2. Make veggies your friend (then eat them).
Choose leafy green salads, cooked veggies, and veggie toppings on wraps, sandwiches, and pizza. Maybe one day servers will ask, “Do you want salad with that?”
3. Don’t be so saucy.
Sauces, condiments, and spreads can contain oodles of fat, sodium, and calories. Ask for these on the side, and limit their use.
4. Rebuff the buffet.
An all-you-can-eat buffet is not a healthy grazing option. Order from the menu instead.
5. Select a healthy cooking method.
Steamed, broiled, or grilled dishes have fewer calories and less fat than foods that are fried.
6. Go for whole grains.
Choose whole grain options when it comes to pasta, bread, buns, or wraps. Quinoa, brown rice, and other whole grains offer more nutrition bang for their buck.
7. Mind your mom and share.
Sharing is good. Start with salad, then share an entrée (ask for your own fork and plate).
8. Choose a side dish or appie.
They’re usually a smaller portion than an entrée, or choose a half salad. Seniors can often choose from the seniors’ menu which features smaller (realistic) sized portions.
9. Wet your whistle with water.
Plain old tap water is a healthier beverage option than a sugar-laden soft drink (and cheaper too).
10. Don’t eat the whole thing.
Don’t mind your mom’s advice to clear your plate. There’s no shame in asking for a doggie bag. It reduces food waste and takes the guesswork out of planning tomorrow’s lunch.