Whether it’s happy hour with coworkers, a birthday dinner with friends, or a big family outing, there’s something special about going out to eat. We do not have any other responsibility except to enjoy the company, order a glass wine, and eat really good food (plus, no dishes to clean!). Now, let’s get to the downside of it. A research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (JAAND) found that 92 percent of meals from large chain and local restaurants had more calories than recommended for the average eater. So does that mean we should give up on eating out? Not necessarily. Here are a few tips to get you going the right way.
1. Make healthy choices
Ask for more vegetables – extra veggie toppings in pizzas, wraps, burgers and sandwiches. Look for dishes that are made with whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, whole grain buns and whole grain breads. Always ask for spreads, sauces or dressings on the side as they have lots of sodium. Try to drink water instead of carbonated beverages. Limit alcohol to one or two drinks a day. Take time to munch your food and eat slow. You don’t have to finish your plate if you are full.
2. Ask to share
If you’ve decided to order a treat, don’t compromise. Gelato has less fat than ice cream—but more calories. This is a numbers game that’s not worth playing, so satisfy your cravings with just one creamy, velvety scoop. Sharing means you get to taste a little of what you fancy without going overboard. If you have gone easy over the main course of your meal, you probably can share your dessert.
3. Snack and stay hydrated
Take the edge off hunger before you reach the restaurant with a small pack of nuts or cut vegetables. Drinking enough water also helps.
4. Eat a Rainbow
Make sure that the food you order has a variety of colours, meaning the meal should have plenty of fruits and veggies. If the half of your plate has veggies, you are doing well.
5. Just say “NO’
Stopping the bread baskets while they are on their way, saying ‘no’ to fries and requesting sauces or dressing on the side are the healthier options that make you stay right on track.
6. Know the menu
Know the place you are going to have your food at and look up their menu online to make healthier choices. It is always better to do your homework to avoid pressure later.
7. Decoding the menus
Despite your best intentions to keep on the straight and narrow, your efforts could be well thwarted by clever-phrasing on menus for high calorie foods. Sometimes just one item on the menu can contain more calories than your recommended daily intake! If you’re not paying attention, some offenders on the menu like sauces and toppings can sabotage your all your efforts.
8. Healthy menu options
Terms that suggests low-fat/salt/sugar preparations:
• Garden fresh
If you want to be sure about what you’re eating, don’t be afraid to ask the restaurant staff for details on the food or cooking methods. Remember, if you’re consistent with your food and exercise regime, then the occasional high calorie restaurant meal isn’t going to ruin your hard work. It’s important to be flexible and enjoy everything in moderation, rather than stressing out about the occasional cheat meal. Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food!