Restaurant food

Plans to Eat Out?

       by  Seethalakshmi Seshabhushan Nagaraja MS BS BE RDN                                                                            Published on August 14, 2018 | Updated on June 4, 2019

The weekend is here and many of us will enjoy a meal at a restaurant with family or friends. If a leaner lunch or slimmer dinner is your preference, here are some handy tips to keep in mind when you do eat out ….

  • Avoid making fast food a daily habit.
  • Remember to eat a balanced healthy meal at home on the day you do eat fast food.
  • Try to plan ahead - most restaurants have nutritional information posted on their websites.
  • Many restaurants have nutritional information even if it isn’t displayed. Ask for healthier menu options. The healthier options do taste good.
  • Look out for the buffets. Try to limit the number of trips to the buffet counters. Avoid or limit the Indian foods with oil or ghee floating on the top. Limit deep fried appetizers as they are high in calories.
  • Watch your portion size. Avoid large sized portions like jumbo, giant, deluxe, biggie-sized or super-sized. Choose regular or junior-sized portions. Some restaurants offer attractive pricing for larger portions but they are usually higher in calories, fat, and sodium.
  • Choose foods that are steamed, boiled, grilled, broiled, roasted, or baked instead of deep fried.
  • Choose lean meats such as lean ham, chicken, turkey, or lean roast beef. Limit meats such as bacon and sausage.
    Seafood is an excellent choice.
  • Choose breads that are whole grain and a good source of fiber.
  • Look out for hidden calories, fat, and sodium in toppings like cheese, mayonnaise, or rich sauces (alfredo, carbonara, etc.). Healthier toppings include mustard, lettuce, tomato, peppers, and onion.
  • Try starting your meal with a colorful salad so that you have better appetite control and are satisfied with smaller portions of the main entree. Choose healthier salad dressings and avoid toppings like bacon-bits. Get the dressing on the side so that you can control the amount used. Healthier olive oil based vinaigrettes are delicious too. Choose fresh greens, carrots, cauliflower, bell pepper, broccoli, tomato, and onion instead of potato or macaroni salad which can be higher in calories and fat.
  • Thin-crust vegetable pizza is a healthier alternative to deep-dish pizza. Choose lean meat toppings. Extra cheese adds more calories, fat, and sodium. Instead try adding your favorite vegetables as toppings – we love sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and peppers (both sweet & spicy). You might be surprised, the kids love them, too.
  • Avoid deep-fried taco shells when choosing Mexican fast food. Those tortilla chips that come with the meals are high in calories. Sour cream and cheese add calories and fat, try a flavorful salsa instead. A side of black or pinto beans are healthy vegetarian protein choices.
  • Choose fresh fruit or desserts without sugar and fat. If you do indulge in a rich dessert, ask for extra forks & spoons – share with others – more fun this way!
  • Look out for those drinks with added sugar, they can add a lot of calories. Choose nutritious drinks and stay within your daily calories goal.

And remember that staying active and working out on a regular basis helps strengthen muscles and burn more calories.

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