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Tips for a Healthy Restaurant Experience — an article on the Smart Living Network
June 28, 2011 at 11:52 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Tips for a Healthy Restaurant Experience

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Below are some quick tips for making your next dining out experience less stressful and more healthy. 

  • Try to start off with a healthy appetizer, but if bread is automatically served, try to hold off until you have eaten some protein and limit your bread.
  • The best drink is water, stay away from regular soda or alcohol, unsweetened ice tea, lemonade or as a last resort diet soda.
  • You may want to order two appetizers or an appetizer and soup for your meal to keep the size of your meal down. Doing so will help keep the portions closer to what you normally eat at home.  Portions typically are larger in restaurants.  Save the rest for leftovers at home.
  • Choose a low fat dressing for salad (vinaigrette is best) and get it served ‘on the side’ to control how much dressing actually goes on the salad.
  • Use soup as an entree, it fills you up and is low in calories. Remember to choose soups without a cream base.  These tend to be high in fat and not helpful for keeping calories down.
  • When ordering grilled fish and vegetables, ask them to be fixed with little or no butter or oil.
  • If you want a pasta dish pick one with a tomato based sauce.  Because it is a vegetable rather than a cream based sauce it’s not as high in fat and calories.
  • Order a baked potato with salsa instead of sour cream, cheese, bacon or butter.  Salsa is tasty, is low in calories and there are lots of interesting variations depending upon each restaurant’s recipe.  For an even better option than a baked potato, try a baked sweet potato.
  • Order your sandwiches with mustard, a condiment with almost no calories, instead of mayonnaise or special sauces.
  • Foods to avoid?  Anything fried, basted, braised, au gratin, crispy, escalloped, pan fried, sautéed, stewed or stuffed. These foods are high in fat and calories.
  • Foods preparations styles to look for on the menu are steamed, broiled, baked, grilled, poached or roasted.
  • Experiment with eating entrees having fruits and vegetables as the main ingredients. They are a great source of fiber and vitamins.
  • Look for items flavored with herbs instead of oil and butter which are fats.
  • Ask for foods made with whole grains such as wheat bread and brown rice.
  • Request your side dish be steamed vegetables instead of served with sauce or oils. Most restaurants will provide even if not on the menu.
  • If you really crave the sweetness of dessert after a meal, go for sorbet, fresh berries, or fruit - all low in fat. Keep an eye out for no-sugar options as well.  Many restaurants are recognizing the need for offering their health-conscious patrons these types of choices.
  • Eat like you did in college - share your meal with a friend.  Doing so can means half the fat and calories. With the larger meals being served today you will both still get a satisfying, full meal.
  • Eat slowly - you will be filled faster.  It takes 20 minutes for the brain and stomach to recognize and agree on fullness, so take your time. Remember to stop eating when you are full. 
  • Don't hesitate to ask for meals prepared off the menu.  If you take a quick glance at what’s offered, you can usually request something within their ability to cook in short order.  Most will accommodate your healthy requests if it’s not too far off the menu.
  • Don't be afraid to ask how things are prepared, especially if vegetables are cooked in butter or margarine.
  • Ask if baked and broiled foods are basted while they cook.

Keeping a structured list of things to do every time you go out can help you keep the extra pound away by giving you consistent eating guidelines to follow and making dining out more enjoyable.

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