Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

How Can I Make Healthier Choices at Restaurants?

Many of us eat out for meals. What was once an infrequent special dinner has become breakfast, lunch and dinner for many of us who have limited time to cook at home.

According to the National Restaurant Association there are 1 million restaurants in the United States. We spend $1.9 billion eating in them on a typical day.

They also say that 8 in 10 of us report that dining out with family and friends is a better use of our leisure time than cooking and cleaning up. Interesting statistic!

Lucky for us more and more restaurants are cooking up foods that are healthier for us all. There are more grilled entrees, steamed vegetables, fruits and lower calorie menus items available to those who want to choose health. Gone are the days when eating out was a treat and we felt obliged to indulge in the selections offered.

There are a few ways to make the best choices when eating out:

  1. Learn about the restaurant before you arrive to be sure it has what you want. There are menus online and nutritional content posted so you can see the details before you select a particular establishment. There are also smartphone apps that can help with these selections too. If they don’t have the healthy options you prefer, find another place to eat.
  2. Cut out the easy extra calories such as soda, sweetened drinks, bread baskets, salad bar extras, sauces and fried foods. All these choices add enough calories without optimal nutrition that can send your diet quickly out of energy balance.
  3. You could order what you crave even if the calories are more than you want but choose to eat only half by getting the take-home carton as soon as the food arrives and take it off your plate before you over indulge. There goes the temptation or mindless eating when you are entertained by your company.
  4. You can order a smaller portion of your favorite by ordering an appetizer instead of an entrée.
  5. Ask for steamed vegetables or a side salad in place of the starches on your plate.
  6. Use caution when eating on a buffet. Even if you take only one plate, trying to get your money’s worth by filling it up will only hurt your waistline and your health. Best idea is to find another restaurant that won’t offer the buffet temptation.
  7. Share dessert with the table and only have a taste. Choose lower calorie items for dessert such as fruit or frozen yogurt or sorbet if your sweet tooth is calling.

There are also words on the menu to avoid such as sauces, fried, battered, or creamed. These menu items will be loaded with fat and calories you are probably trying to avoid. Portion control is key whether in the restaurant or at home.

Enjoy a good meal sensibly at home or away for your health!

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