When watching your weight, dining out can be a challenge! Many of us dine out more than we ever have in the past, and there are more restaurants than ever available to us.
With all of the different options to choose from, two things seem generally consistent: portions are large, and meals are loaded with starches and fat, which are high in sugars and calories.
However, since there are so many people trying to follow more healthy lifestyles, restaurants are becoming more accommodating to your health needs than ever before. Here are some simple precautionary steps to take when going out for a meal.
1. Avoid Fried or Battered Food
Avoid fried and battered foods. Instead, ask for special requests. Most restaurants are accommodating and will prepare your meal as you like. Ask for grilled, broiled, roasted, or steamed meats and vegetables. Requesting a side of steamed vegetables, salad, or brown or wild rice instead of French fries or other fried sides can help cut calories and fat while increasing your intake of healthy nutrients!
2. Ordering Salad
When ordering salad, order your dressing on the side to limit your sugar, fat, and calorie intake. However, be careful not to pour all of the dressing provided over your salad, as it is often more than you would normally get on a salad with the dressing already on it. Depending on how hungry you are, a salad may be enough to satisfy your appetite, but make sure it includes some lean meat or fish for protein!
3. Considering Soup
When considering soup, go for the healthier, low-fat, broth-based options that are loaded with vegetables such as kidney, black, pinto, or garbanzo beans and whole grains such as barley. Avoid cream-based soups and chowders.
4. Avoid The Extras
Avoid all the extras, as these calories add up quickly: bread and butter, sweetened drinks, appetizers, side items, and desserts. Instead focus on a healthy balance of lean proteins, low-fat carbohydrates, and vegetables.
5. Limit the Alcohol
Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink. Alcohol, whether in the form of a cocktail, wine, or beer, can weaken you from exercising thoughtful moderation with your food. It also offers no nutritional benefit. Since the body has to use alcohol for energy first, followed by carbohydrates, protein, and fat, when you drink and eat, the excess calories are often stored as fat.
6. End Your Meal With Tea
End your meal with refreshing green or herbal tea. Ginger tea can help with digestion, and green tea is good for your overall health. Many restaurants now offer a variety of exotic teas, so treat yourself! Some teas are so fruity that they’re a perfect replacement for dessert.