Americans love to dine out. In 1970, 25.9 percent of food was eaten away from home. That number increased to 43.1 percent in 2012.1 And it just keeps on rising. Eating out is easy and delicious, after all. But what if you’re trying to keep a healthy diet? Restaurants make that hard to do. Luckily, it’s possible to eat well while you’re out. All you need is the right approach. Start with these five tips and tricks. It takes practice, but it becomes easier over time. Soon enough, you’ll be navigating menus like a pro.
1. Choose Drinks Wisely At The Restaurant
Drinks set the tone for the entire meal. This where your healthy choices can start. Water is always the best choice. Not only will it keep you hydrated, but it’ll also curb hunger. This is a smart move if you’re already
Skip sugary drinks like soda, iced tea, or sweetened fruit juice. These options pack on the calories and contribute to weight gain. What’s worse is that they don’t fill you up! Instead, they increase hunger, making you eat more.2 If you’re craving flavor, add lemon or lime to water. You can also order 100 percent fruit juice and water it down.
2. Order Condiments On The Side
From barbecue sauce to salad dressing, condiments can enhance a meal. However, they also bring in unnecessary sodium, high-fructose corn syrup, and preservatives.3 Food dyes and monosodium glutamate can also be found in condiments.4 To limit your intake, order sauces and dressings separately.
3. Avoid Fried Foods At The Restaurant
Fried food is the mascot of American cuisine. It’s cheap, fast, and easy. Sadly, frying also boosts cholesterol and saturated fat.5 Healthy nutrients totally deteriorate, while making toxic chemicals in the process.6 Look for baked, roasted, grilled, or steamed options. If a meal has fried meat, ask if the cooking method can be changed. It’ll be worth the
4. Avoid Cream Sauces At The Restaurant
From “Alfredo” to “white sauce”, creaminess means trouble. These sauces are often made with half and half or whole milk. In turn, there’s a lot of flavor, but fat and sodium as well. Keep an eye out for pasta dishes with these sauces. Creamy salad dressings, like Thousand Island and ranch, should also be avoided. Opt for light choices like vinaigrette or olive oil.
5. Reduce Portions At The Restaurant
Portion control is game changer, especially when you’re eating out. Yet, since the 1970s, America’s portion sizes have significantly increased. The same can be said about obesity rates. We tend to eat more when we’re served more, so be mindful.7 Many menus offer half-portions these days. You can even ask to have half of your meal packed before it’s served. With a friend? Share a meal and save money in the process.
Adopting these habits takes time. It won’t happen overnight, so be patient! With practice, you can master eating out in a healthy way.
|↑1||Food-Away-from-Home. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑2||Sugary Drinks. Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health.|
|↑3||Healthier Condiments. American Heart Association.|
|↑4||Chemical Science. Center for Science in the Public Interest.|
|↑5||Guallar-Castillón, Pilar, Fernando Rodríguez-Artalejo, Esther Lopez-Garcia, Luz M. León-Muñoz, Pilar Amiano, Eva Ardanaz, Larraitz Arriola et al. “Consumption of fried foods and risk of coronary heart disease: Spanish cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study.” BMJ 344 (2012): e363.|
|↑6||Bordin, Keliani, Mariana Tomihe Kunitake, Keila Kazue Aracava, and Carmen Silvia Favaro Trindade. “Changes in food caused by deep fat frying-A review.” Archivos latinoamericanos de nutricion 63, no. 1 (2013): 5.|
|↑7||Do Increased Portion Sizes Affects How