We in America love to dine out. In fact, according to Forbes.com the average American spends roughly $1000 annually just on lunch alone! You can imagine what dinner meals add to that tab. Not only can eating out be budget busting, but budget aside, it can be a health killer too. This is because many restaurants serve up dishes with a mountain load of salt, unhealthy fats, and other ingredients that you probably don’t even want to know about. But, if eating out is something you enjoy, here are some tips to make it a much healthier experience.
Look for restaurants that offer healthy choices – These days, many restaurants have web sites and will make their menus available on-line. Many eateries will make special accommodations for you if you ask, just call ahead. A good option is Whole Foods Market or any other healthy market that has a large salad bar. Most Whole Foods stores not only have salad bars, but they also have cooked options, such as steamed vegetables and veggie soups.
Go for oatmeal and fruit for breakfast – I have even been able to order gluten-free oats some places. Top it off with some berries and some dairy free milk (if available) and you’re good to go.
Look for restaurants which offer great salad options for lunch and dinner – You can order a double-sized salad and let them charge you double. Be sure to ask for your dressing on the side and use it very sparingly or you can ask for oil and vinegar and just use a little bit of the oil.
Watch out for soups – Restaurant soups are generally always high in salt, so it is best to skip them.
Hold the bread – Ask your waiter not to bring bread to your table. That way, you are not tempted to fill up before your meal arrives.
Load up on the steamed vegetables – Ask for an extra side of steamed vegetables in lieu of pasta, white potatoes or white rice to go with your main dish. Also, ask for them to cut the butter, oil and salt or at the very least, these should be used very sparingly. You can also just request a double serving of vegetables as your entrée. If you order a conventional entrée, try to choose broiled fish or chicken and share with someone you are dining with.
Have Berries for Dessert – Stop! Don’t go for that gooey brownie with the ski slope of ice cream on top. Instead, think berries! Berries are a fabulous and tasty way to end a meal and most restaurants will have them available even if they are not on the menu. Just ask. I do it all the time.
Eating out need not be a health disaster. With a little planning, you can enjoy eating out and stay healthy too. Bon Appetit!