Dining out has become our way of life, a part of our weekly routine. Whether you grab a meal on-the-go from the drive through or enjoy dinner out together as a family, dining out has become commonplace in our lives. Dining out is no longer a luxury that our parent’s enjoyed as it has become no big deal in our society!
Dining out is convenient and enjoyable, but if we are not careful, this modern day convenience will add pounds to our bodies before we know it. Preparation is the key to eating healthy and making better menu selections that will both taste great and keep us healthy. Here is a list of tips to remember when dining out.
Prepare before you arrive at the restaurant. Have a few menu items in mind and this can be done by going to the restaurant’s website and looking up the nutritional information. Most large chains provide this information. If you are concerned about calories, then focus on that aspect. If you try to eat low fat items, then find entrees low in fat. Nutritional information may also be available at the restaurant, ask your waiter. Preparation is the key!
Ask for a “to go” box when you order. The portion sizes at restaurants have dramatically increased over the years. Most of the time when our food is brought to us, we have enough to feed two people. When your meal arrives, place half of it in the container and you will have leftovers for another meal as well as save numerous calories.
Split your meal with another person. Splitting a meal with another individual means that you eat only half of the calories and the portion size will seem small but probably fill you up.
Order menu items ala carte. You can enjoy a soup and salad for dinner at almost any restaurant. Be sure to stay away from cream based soups as they are higher in calories, and get a fat free or low fat dressing for your salad. If one is not available, ask for olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Also, beware of all of the extras on soups and salads such as nuts, cheese, sour cream, bacon, and eggs.
Ask for items to be prepared to your liking. Most of the time, the chef will be able to meet your needs. One way to reduce fat and calories is to ask for your entrees to be stir fried in water or grilled without butter or oil. Ask for a side salad instead of French fries and get a low fat or fat free dressing.
Get the condiments on the side. Mayonnaise, sour cream, and special dressings are packed with fat and calories and often times we are given 2-3 servings with our meal. Ask for sandwiches without anything and then use low calorie condiments such as mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, or low fat honey mustard.
Be careful of the salad trap. What do we always order when we are on a diet? A salad, right! Some salad entrees actually have more calories and fat than a burger. Of course you are getting vegetables, but most specialty salads have tons of cheese, nuts, and high fat dressings.
In general, you can eat healthy by choosing grilled chicken, grilled fish, or even a lean cut of steak along with a dinner salad and low fat dressing or steamed vegetables and a baked potato.
Greg Ryan is an accomplished author, personal trainer, life coach and owner of Resolutions Preventative Health Care through Fitness for Seniors and Diabetics in St. Matthews. www.resolutions.bz