When you lead a busy life and don’t have time to cook a well balanced meal, it can be challenge to eat healthy and maintain an optimal body weight. Restaurant foods are loaded with hidden carbohydrates, trans fats, and calories that are sure to sabotage your attempts at healthy eating.
Is healthy restaurant eating possible?
If you follow a few simple guidelines, you can escape from your kitchen and still have a healthy and tasty restaurant meal. Here are some suggestions for keeping your calorie, carbohydrate, and fat consumption under control while eating at a restaurant:
Learn to love a fresh green salad
Almost every restaurant will have a salad available in some form or other. This can be one of the healthiest choices you can make for healthy restaurant eating. You’re getting vegetables which are loaded with disease preventing antioxidants, as well as fiber to help keep your digestive tract in good working order. Be sure to make the right choice of dressing and request that it be served on the side. Also, ask your waiter to hold the cheese and croutons.
Be wary of appetizers
Appetizers at most restaurants are, frankly, unhealthy. Many of them are deep fried and high in trans fats and carbohydrates. Do you really need to order that high fat appetizer? If you can’t resist, at least order an item that’s not fried and ask that the sauce be placed on the side.
Choose your entrée wisely
The wisest choice would be a grilled or steamed seafood dish or a grilled or baked lean chicken entrée. Again, the sauce can be a significant source of calories and fat. Ask that the sauce be placed on the side so you can control the amount you consume. Better yet, hold the sauce, and add mustard or hot sauce to spice up your main course.
Watch those side items
Make the smart choice when it comes to side items to go with your entrée. Instead of choosing the mashed potatoes or rice that comes with your selection, ask to substitute the vegetable of the day. Not only will you likely save on calories, you’ll also be getting a healthy serving of vegetables. Vegetables should be a mainstay of healthy restaurant eating.
Watch what you drink
Save calories by ordering unsweetened iced tea or water to drink with your entrée. Calories from drinks can really add up. Avoid ordering wine and alcoholic beverages which will save you both calories and money.
Eat half now and half later
When your meal arrives, immediately cut your entrée in half. Take home half in a takeout box to eat for lunch the next day. Healthy eating requires portion control. With the size restaurant entrees are these days, you’ll still have plenty of food left to eat.
Consider a dessert substitute
We all know most desserts in restaurants are laden with calories, carbohydrates, and fats. Instead of ordering dessert, why not have a cup of coffee with skim milk and a little sugar substitute to sweeten things up? This will often satiate your sweet tooth without adding significant calories. You could also stop on the way home from the restaurant for a sugar free ice cream or yogurt at your local ice cream store.
Avoid buffets and all-you-can-eat deals
They’re fun but even the best intentioned person has difficulty with portion control at a buffet. Buffets are usually not compatible with healthy restaurant eating. Save them for a special occasion when your weight is low enough that you can afford to splurge.
Online research can save your waistline
Many chain restaurants now have their complete menus posted online along with nutritional information. Do a little research before dining by reading the nutritional information and planning your selections. This will allow you to avoid impulse purchases of high caloric foods once you reach the restaurant.
Have a snack before leaving home
Before heading to the restaurant, have a small salad or bowl of soup that’s low in calories. Studies have shown that by doing this, you’ll naturally consume less food when you reach the restaurant. Never go to a restaurant when you’re ravenously hungry!
By now, I hope you’re convinced that you can eat out and still eat healthy. You just have to know how to order. Give these guidelines for healthy restaurant eating a try and you’ll reach your weight loss goals quicker than you ever thought possible!