Restaurant meals can often contain too many calories, too much fat, salt, and maybe even too much protein. Also, there may be hidden food allergens if you are sensitive to certain foods (dairy, gluten, soy, etc.). An occasional splurge is fine, but if you eat out often, try to do the following to stay on a healthy diet:
- Ask the waiter to take the bread away (at least avoid eating white bread).
- Don’t add extra butter to your meal.
- Avoid cream-based soups.
- Order salad dressing, rich sauces, and toppings on the side. Best to choose the olive oil dressing.
- Order simple entrees, such as chicken or fish, broiled, baked or steamed, if possible.
- Avoid fried and deep-fried foods.
- Remember that you DON’T have to finish your food – most restaurant portions are too large. Ask for a doggie bag to take the leftovers home.
- Put together a list of “healthy” places to dine out…..places where the food is fresh and you can order food prepared in a healthy way: salads, broiled fish, baked chicken, baked potatoes., etc.
- If you are sensitive to certain foods, watch for the hidden foods in dressings and sauces.
Gluten-sensitive: All gravies made with flour. Bean dishes are sometimes thickened using flour. Don’t be fooled by cornbread, as it is made with flour. Soy sauce also contains wheat.
Dairy sensitive: Cream sauces usually contain flour and milk. Don’t be fooled by pies and baked goods as they usually contain milk or cream.
Soy sensitive: Avoid all teriyaki or Asian dishes made with tofu or soy sauce.
- Look for power foods that are highly nutritious such as vitamin rich vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes.
- Avoid nibbling on the chips. They are usually deep fried and full of calories.
- Choose restaurants that feature fresh organic foods.
- Eat slowly (put fork down between bites), which aids in digestion and helps you to savor and better absorb what you eat.
- Look out for dressing, sauces and mayonnaise, as they are usually full of trans fats and chemical additives.
- Choose whole grains if you are given a choice: brown rice, quinoa
- Eat your salad first. If vegetables are not included with the meal, order them as a side dish.