It is easy to eat out in this day and age and not run the risk of breaking healthy habits you’ve worked so hard to maintain, as long as you know what to ask for.
Learn to ask questions on how menu items are prepared, what ingredients are used, and what substitutions are possible. It’s unrealistic for many of us never to eat out with busy schedules and social occasions with friends and family, so here are a few tips to minimize your eating out stress.
*When first ordering, ask the server to put half of your meal in a to go bag before it comes to your table.
*Ask for salad dressing on the side and stay away from creamy dressings. Opt for the vinaigrette alternative.
*Get salads without croutons, and choose garden or tomato salads over fancy salads that have candied nuts, chips and many other calories that add up quick! And skip the bread side completely.
*Let your server know you follow a specific food plan and ask how food is prepared. Is the chicken deep-fried or grilled? Get things that are baked, grilled or boiled. Also ask if they can cook ‘dry’, meaning without added oils.
*Choose tomato-based sauces over creamy sauces. Ask the attendant if they can go ‘easy’ on the sauce.
*Go with grilled chicken and beef, or steamed fish dishes that are simple when you can. A big piece of healthy meat with a side of seasonal vegetable like beans or asparagus, plus a delicious healthy salad leaves no room for error and no room for desert cravings!
*Ask for no additional salt to be put on your meat dishes. Restaurants usually just use table salt instead of good quality sea salt.
*Ask for no added butter or oil on vegetables.
*Ask for double side veg instead of the potatoes or rice.
*Ask how potatoes are served. Mashed potatoes will usually have heavy cream and lots of butter (that’s why they taste so good), baked potatoes are full of cream and butter, and French fries and deep fried which you should always steer clear of deep fried foods.
*Use hot sauce or a side of avocado instead of ketchup or other dipping sauces.
*Choose water, and add, lemon instead of pop or sugary juices. Herbal tea and almond or coconut milk also are great substitutions. Ask for a berry herbal tea with ice for a cool juice alternative.
*Some restaurants have low sodium Soya sauce, ask, you never know!
*Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions, the menu is not set in stone. Example, salad instead of fries. For breakfast ask for fruit/tomato slices instead of bacon.
*Go for broth base soups over cream base soups.
*Get your toast “dry” (without butter) or ask for butter on the side so you can monitor the amount. Order multi grain or whole grain. You can also ask for a half order of toast as sometimes they bring out 2 pieces.
*Skip sugary cocktails, and stick with a glass of red wine or a vodka drink with lemon and soda.
*If dessert is a must, order one dessert and share with others or get half put into a doggy bag for a treat for a family member, roommate.
By Wendy Peterson