Dining out is a big part of our lives, so it’s important to be able to choose healthy fare at restaurants. The tips below will help you to choose foods that are more nutritious, lower in fat and sugar, and lower in calories. You’ll enjoy your meal more when you don’t feel sluggish afterwards, and you’ll feel good about the choices you’ve made.
Ask for nutrition information: This is the single most important thing you can do to ensure you’re still eating healthy when dining out. Seemingly healthy dishes can turn unhealthy very quickly if you’re not sure what’s in them. Check ingredients, sugar and fat content, and calories to be sure you’re not getting, and eating, more than you bargained for.
Choose an appetizer instead of an entree: Appetizers are often smaller portions, so you will automatically save calories. Choose something that isn’t fried for an ever healthier option.
Avoid breaded and fried foods: These really pack on the calories and fat. Choose main dishes that are grilled, steamed, or broiled instead. You’ll still get plenty of flavor and be able to enjoy your meal guilt-free.
Meat choices matter: Seafood that isn’t fried is a great option. A grilled chicken breast or steak is a better choice than a fatty hamburger. Choose leaner cuts of meat, or consider trying a vegetarian meal.
Ask for recipe substitutions: Most restaurants are happy to make substitutions for you. Ask that the dish be prepared with light oil, that the meat be grilled instead of fried, or that the sauce or cheeses be left out of the recipe.
Ask for sauces and dressings on the side: Two tablespoons of dressing can add up to nearly two hundred calories. Ask for any dressing and sauces to be served on the side. You can still enjoy the same great taste, but you’ll have more control over the fat and calories in your meal.
Replace the potatoes with salad or vegetables: Potatoes are too often fried or slathered in butter and sour cream. Ask for a double helping of steamed vegetables instead of potatoes, and you’ll add plenty of vitamins and fiber to your meal.
Split your meal: Since restaurant meals are often much larger than what we’d normally eat, consider sharing a meal with your companion. You can also box part of the meal and take it home for later, or share it with your four-legged friend at home.
Drink water or diet soda: Avoiding high-calorie, sugary drinks is an easy way to save calories and keep that extra sugar out of your diet. Choose diet soda or unsweetened tea instead. Alcohol can also add up to a lot of empty calories. If you can, avoid it entirely. Otherwise, choose a light beer instead of sugary mixed drinks.
Skip dessert, or split it with the table: Focus on enjoying your meal, and plan on skipping dessert. If this is hard to do, ask for fresh fruit, or choose a mini dessert that many restaurants now offer. If you’re dining with several others, consider buying one dessert for everyone to share.
Dining out can be an enjoyable and healthy occasion. By following a few simple tips, you can ensure that you have a great time, a great meal, and feel great about the choices you’ve made.