Getting together with friends or family on the weekend to enjoy a meal together can be a lot of fun! Meeting at a restaurant is a way to socialize, share good conversation and have some laughs. Maybe you’ve had a long day at work and don’t feel like cooking. It’s great to go someplace where someone else does the cooking for us. It sounds great – right? It can be even better by following a few rules of the road so we can have a smooth ride without bumps along the way. Come with me on this journey and I’ll help guide you with an easy to follow road map to keep your health in mind while dining out.
Eating Healthy at Restaurants
1. Tread Lightly – Since meals prepared in restaurants often have high amounts of calories, saturated fats and salt/sodium, it’s much healthier to make fresh meals at home. So it’s best to have some balance, and when you eat out, try to keep it to a maximum of 2 or 3 times per week.
2. Map It Out – A great way to make healthier choices is to plan ahead and view the restaurant menus and nutritional health info on the restaurant’s website before going out to eat. If you don’t have a chance to do that beforehand, use your smartphone when you get there or most places have a paper copy of their nutrition information. It’s important to take this step, since high levels of saturated fat and sodium can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and other diseases. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, an average adult should consume no more than 1500mg of salt per day. Some restaurant meals have that amount or more in just one meal!
3. Choose The Road Less Traveled – We’re used to driving along and just looking at the menu and picking out something without putting much thought into it. Sure the fettuccine with cream sauce sounds delicious. The pizza with thick crust and extra cheese seems amazing. I must admit, I am getting kind of hungry! I’m not saying to just eat a salad, but to explore things a little differently. For instance, ordering a salad with dressing on the side and splitting the fettuccine with someone or taking half home would be my suggestion. That way, you curb your appetite by eating some vegetables first and don’t eat such a huge portion of the main meal. Also, instead of ordering the pizza straight from the menu, make a few changes like ordering thin crust – you can taste the ingredients so much more instead of mostly bread. And try asking for half the cheese and there will still be plenty to enjoy. Another suggestion is fish. Just like you would make at home, it’s a very healthy option. Nowadays, you can even have fresh fish delivered to your home. To try it out, order now. Grill fish saves a lot of calories, fat and salt, and the server will be happy to do it for you. More and more people are asking for food to be prepared in an alternate way, so they’re used to it. If you don’t look out for your health, who will?
These are a few tips to help you navigate when eating out. With a few changes, you can arrive in a healthier place, be on the road for longer and still enjoy the ride!
By Nancy Goldstein, Certified Nutritional Consultant. Follow me on Twitter @NancyGoldstein4