Dining Out? Keep It Healthy!
Our world has significantly shifted into a place where your profession is your focus. Our lifestyles are fast-paced, and there are hardly enough hours in the day to accomplish our work, homework, chores, get a workout in, eat etc. Most of the time we have to prioritize what we will accomplish each day because time is limited. Certain tasks just cannot go undone, i.e., work, family, the endless errands. Our cards are dealt and we are forced to play the hand we have. We must adapt and find ways to save time each and every day in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle with balance.
The average American eats out 4-5 times per week! A staggering 58% eat fast food at least once per week, which means it is still an integral part of our daily diets as a society. This week, we are going to discuss ways we can alter experience at the restaurant to better suit our journey to a healthier life.
A meal always begins with a drink order. Most beverages offered at restaurants are loaded with very high amounts of sugar. Try to steer clear of all the sodas, even the diet ones. Studies have shown that even though diet sodas contain no sugar, the artificial sweeteners are so similar to sugar that it actually fools your brain. The brain and your metabolism react as it would to a huge dose of sugar. It begins pumping out insulin in preparation for the sugar that is to come. Excess insulin can cause your body to store a ton of fat.
Keep it simple with water or iced tea. Many restaurants offer fruit infused iced teas if you are seeking something with a bit more flavor. Always double check that these are unsweetened and freshly brewed, we don’t want anything from a can!
After drink orders are placed, your waiter will offer appetizers while you wait to order your entree. Most appetizers are very unhealthy, like fried cheese and nachos. In the moment, when you are starving, it is easy to order anything and everything. Since you feel “famished”, you will tend to order larger portions and get caught with something quite unhealthy. Let’s be honest, most of us are almost always super full after binging on appetizers, so if you’re starving and need to order something to hold you over until the entree, try a salad instead. Salads are loaded with veggies and maybe even a bit of protein, which is a great appetizer that won’t spoil your appetite for dinner. These leafy greens and hearty vegetables are full of fiber and other very important vitamins and nutrients.
Remember to get the dressing on the side, and ask what the ingredients are. Not all dressings are created equal. Most are loaded with added sugar and sodium, so be careful. Getting the dressing on the side is an easy way to control the amount that goes on your salad.
Most restaurants are no different from large food manufacturers. There are key “buzzwords” on menus to trick you into thinking what you’re ordering might be healthier than it really is. Menus are also set up in such a way that are meant to attract your eyes to certain items, for example, something that may cost less for the restaurant to make. Be on the lookout for words like creamy, crispy, fried, breaded, smothered, etc. Instead, choose dishes that contain words like grilled, broiled, baked, or steamed. Entrees that list vegetables and healthy starches in their description are usually better options. Another helpful tip is to request olive oil instead of butter for your dinner’s preparation. I have found from personal experience that most restaurants are beyond accommodating to dietary needs. Do not feel as if you are troubling the waiter or chef, as their job is to make the customer happy!
You know what is next… dessert. Maybe you ate a very healthy dinner and feel as if you deserve something sweet. Here are some tips if dessert is unavoidable. Most desserts are going to be fatty and sugary, and usually very large. Be aware of portion sizes and try to split a dessert with multiple people. Perhaps the waiter could recommend a healthier option such as fruit, or the dessert that is smallest. Some other lower calorie options are frozen yogurt, sorbets, and angel food cake with fresh strawberries. Always be aware of the sugar content in desserts. Do not be afraid to ask how any of your dishes are prepared.
One last tip for your next meal out: Try to order first. This is because when your friends and family order pizza and burgers, you will be more likely to change your order. It is easier to stick to your health plan when you get your order in first, because you won’t likely hassle the waiter to change your order. No need to be rude or yell your order, just politely ask your friends if you could order first. Let them know you are trying to watch what you eat, and I’m sure they will understand.