Eating Well While Dining Out

The two are not mutually exclusive, I promise.

Hello everybody! For those of you in the US I hope you had a relaxing and fun Fourth of July filled with fireworks, BBQ, and lots of family and friend time! Unfortunately I was stuck working in the AM, but afterwards I was able to enjoy a cookout and have fun talking to a friend of my grandparents’ who happened to be a dietitian. Fun times!

In today’s post I wanted to cover a topic that if you’re trying to eat well in today’s world, it’s something you might struggle with: eating out. Let’s face it; we don’t know what goes on in the kitchen and what ingredients they use. Now, you can ask all the questions you want about menu items, and I encourage you to do so if you’d like. For those of you on the shier side, I’d like to help you out when making your choices at various restaurants so you can stay on track!

Let’s talk about portion sizes. The standard portion served in US restaurants are two to four times the amount of food you should actually consume at one meal. Restaurants like using big plates and filling them to the brim to fill up the eyes and bellies of diners that aren’t aware of correct portion sizes. My pro tip: only eat half of the plate and box the rest. Or, if you’re tempted to eat the whole plate in one go ask the waiter to box half before he/she even brings it out to you. Either way you’re saving on calories that can be used elsewhere during your day!

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Let’s talk about how restaurants tend to drench everything in dressing/sauce/etc. We like our condiments. They give food flavor and texture and make it all around delicious. But, all of those dressings and sauces – especially if they’re drenching your food – add extra, unwanted calories that you can save. My pro tip: ask for dressing on the side, ask for sauce to be added lightly to your dish, etc. That way you’re in control of how much you put on your food and how many extra calories you add!

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Let’s talk about salt and other mystery ingredients. Many chefs like to add salt at every step of preparation – something my Food Science professor taught us – but, as we know it is unnecessary and just serves to increase the sodium content of what we eat. And sodium can lead to an increased risk for hypertension and other chronic diseases. My pro tip: many of the restaurant menus are online now. This way you can scope out all sorts of nutrition information and ingredients ahead of time so you’re not overwhelmed when you get to a restaurant.

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Let’s talk about those side dish options. You know what I’m talking about. The fries, the loaded baked potato, etc. etc. Choosing those sides PLUS a main dish might be enough to tally in at half of your daily calories or more. My pro tip: choose a healthier option like the steamed or roasted vegetable of the day, or the baked potato without the bacon and cheese. This way you incorporate a serving of veggies while simultaneously saving some calories.

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With these tips you’ll become a pro at eating out even while you’re eating well! It’s not an impossible task, and try to remember that moderation is key! Indulging on a night out is a part of any healthy lifestyle 🙂

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Question of the week: what are your favorite restaurants to go to when you’re looking for a night out? How do you order healthy?

Image Credit: Image 1 (unknown); Image 2 (www.mrsfields.com); Image 3 (dhtmix.com); Image 4 (www.seeannajane.com)

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