Since we all eat out every once in awhile (some more than others), I’ve decided to write up a list of tips you can take into consideration when eating out.
- Get the dressing/sauces (such as gravy) on the side – Most restaurants overdo the dressing/sauces. Having it on the side lets you control how much you are or are not eating (obviously).
- Go for a lighter/fat free dressing – Most places now carry light or fat free versions of the dressings, all you have to do is ask. As for the healthiest dressing? Anything oil and vinegar. Balsamic vinaigrette is a great choice.
- Just because you are getting a salad doesn’t mean it’s going to be healthy – A typical side caesar salad could have up to ~1,000+ calories in it. For example: 99 Restaurants Chicken Caesar Salad has 900 Calories – 57grams of fat, 51 grams of carbs, and 55 grams of protein…not so “healthy”.
- Look up what you’re going to get before you go – Most restaurants now post calorie information on the website. Figuring out what you want before hand may be easier for you and the person you are out to eat with.
- Go grilled, steamed, broiled, dry-sauteed, baked, poached, or roasted instead of fried, crispy, pan-fried, stuffed, sauteed, au gratin, or escalloped.
- Trim the fat – Either do this yourself or ask your server that you would like the skin and fat removed.
- Grilled chicken – My personal favorite. Low in calories and fat while being high in protein. You do need to use common sense though. Grilled chicken in Alfredo is going to negate the “healthy” part from that equation. Fish for the most part is also a great choice (if it’s not cooked with the “instead of” methods listed in #5).
- Look for the “healthy” section on the menu – Most menus now have a section for people dieting. Be careful with this though, as not all of the options are that healthy.
- Say no to or go light on the mayo – Most sandwiches are loaded with mayo. Get rid of it, go light (as mayo is healthy in small quantities), or put it on yourself.
- Change the cheese – Ask for low fat or fat free cheese. Most restaurants will have these options.
- Change the milk – Ask for 2% or fat free milk. Most restaurants also have these options.
- Get water, iced tea (unsweetened), or diet soda – Don’t waste the calories on a drink…and if you do, it better be a strong one!
- Ask for alternatives to butter – Chances are they have an alternative. You can also request that your meal be cooked in that alternative too (instead of being cooked in loads of butter).
- Watch out for the salt and MSG – Request your meal be prepared without added salt or MSG.
- Go unloaded – Don’t load the potato.
- Like sushi? – Ask for a low sodium soy sauce.
- Substitute the fries – Steamed vegetables or a baked potato make for a great substitution.
- Send back the free food – You don’t need the bread, chips, crackers, etc
- Broth over Cream – Broth based soups are a lot healthier than cream based.
- Use herbs and spices to flavor your foods – You can request most herbs and spices.
- Vegetarian options aren’t always healthy – Most of the time they are loaded in cheese, nuts, and non-vegetable ingredients. Cheese and nuts ARE healthy in small quantities but you have to keep in mind they are also high in calories which makes it easy to overeat them!
- Don’t eat fast – Eating fast will almost always make you eat more than you know you should. Eating the meal slower gives you time to feel full.
You still need to enjoy yourself when eating out. These are just things to take into consideration, especially if you eat out a lot. For those of you who don’t eat out that often, it’s alright to “splurge” a little and get what you want. The key is to not let that one meal ruin the rest of your diet. MODERATION IS KEY!
Feel free to share any of your tips for eating out and staying healthy below!