Restaurant Healthy Dining Tips
During the holidays, dining in restaurants is fun, sociable, and it gives us a break from the kitchen. However, eating out in a restaurant can negatively influence a person’s diet. Studies suggest that people are more likely to steer from their diets and make poor food choices at restaurants. They also show people are prone to overeat when dining outside the home. However, here are great tips that can make dining in a restaurant healthier and help people in avoid straying from their diets.
How to Make Healthy Choices in Restaurants
- Do the Homework. The first thing to do before going out to eat is look up the menu online. Doing a little homework will help provide a better insight into what type of cuisine the restaurant has to offer, which provides an overall ordering game plan. Look for items that are healthier than others, and prepare plenty of questions for the server about how they prepare their food. This also grants the opportunity to determine which dishes NOT to consider, in advance.
- Ordering Tips. When ordering, remember to always ask about how the cooks prepare the food. The server should be knowledgeable enough to help with selecting the healthiest options. Many chain restaurants also offer a lighter menu that touts items which provide nutritional value and items under a certain number of calories. Nutritional information is often included.
- Cooking method. When trying to eat healthy at a restaurant, avoid ordering fried foods. Although tasty, these items contain unhealthy fat and sodium. Fried items usually have the words ‘crispy’ or ‘crunchy’ in their description. Instead, opt for foods that are poached, steamed, grilled, roasted, baked, or served raw. Also, request that they cook the food using little to no oil. Stick with dishes prepared the healthy way.
- Sauces. There are different ways that restaurants prepare their sauces. It would be prudent to avoid cream-based sauces. Heavy cream is high in fat and offers little nutritional value. Only one ounce of heavy cream contains 12 grams of fat and over 100 calories. Instead, look for stock or tomato-based sauces. Stock and tomato-based items are much lower in fat and have fewer calories. Finally, always order sauces on the side to better control portions.
- Soup & Salad. Studies suggest that starting a meal with a soup or salad helps curb appetite once the entrees arrive. Just as with sauces, avoid cream-based soups. Also, avoid soups that use a lot of cheese. Request no cheese on top of the soup if applicable. Stock-based soups, such as chicken noodle or Italian wedding soup, are much lower in fat and also include healthy vegetables. For salads, always request they be served without croutons or cheeses. Many salad dressings contain a generous amount of oil, which has many calories. Ask the server to have the dressing “on the side” to control caloric intake from salad dressing. Dip a fork in the dressing and select a bite of salad, rather than pouring the dressing over the top.
- Meats. For those who enjoy a good steak, always select the leaner cuts of meat. Cuts such as T-bones, filet, flank steak, and lean rump roast will contain fewer amounts of saturated fat and calories. For poultry, remember that cuts of dark meat, such as the legs, wings, and thighs, will have more fat content. The breast of the bird has the most protein, which helps regulate metabolism, and the least fat content. Fish is also a great option. It has minimal calories or fat, and it is an excellent source of protein. Fattier fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are also rich in fatty acids that aid in fighting the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.
- Sharing. Currently, the concept of serving smaller, shareable plates in restaurants is more popular than ever. When dining out with others, sharing plates is a great way to monitor caloric intake. Many restaurants serve overly large portions to add perceived value to the price. In these cases, starting with a soup or salad, and sharing one main entrée helps reduce the chances of overeating.
- Kid’s menu. There’s no shame in ordering from the kid’s menu when it comes to weight watching. The kid’s menu has significantly smaller portions and can be easily modified to suit most dietary requirements. For example, a kid’s burger is typically half the size of a burger from the regular menu and ordering it without the bun removes the carbohydrate content. Wrap it in lettuce instead!
Stay Focused on Weight Loss Goals During the Holidays
Dining in a restaurant does offer the temptation to leave the dieting at home. Splurging now and then as a reward for hard work won’t completely ruin a diet and is entirely reasonable – in moderation. During the holidays, there are often more occasions to dine in restaurants, so remain aware of the pitfalls. Using little tricks and tweaks when ordering in a restaurant helps keep the calories away and the focus on weight loss goals. And when eating at home, check out these Nutritionist approved recipes!
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