How to eat healthier when dining out

How to eat healthier when dining out

Maintaining a healthy diet is difficult, especially with the temptation of dining out at every corner. A national trend analysis found that an increasing number of Americans are dining out, and doing so more frequently. This frequent dining out has been linked to both weight gain and obesity due to the fact that these foods tend to be higher in calories and are of poorer nutritional quality than foods prepared at home (Journal of health Psychology, 2018). But dining out doesn’t have to be so unhealthy, here’s how (National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute, 2013):

  1. Avoid ordering beverages such as soda and alcohol. These only serve to add additional calories to your meal without any of the nutritional benefit. Stick to water, fruit juice, unsweetened iced tea, or fat-free milk. 
  2. If presented with varying portion sizes, choose a smaller portion size rather than larger. Try to avoid buffets! 
  3. When calorie counts are provided, choose a meal with a lower calorie count. Try to order from the “lighter side” menu when able. 
  4. Converse with your server about your dietary needs and ask that no salt be added to your meal. They may even have suggestions of menu options that meet your requests.
  5. If you are planning to dine out for the evening, adjust your other meals accordingly. Try to consume foods that contain less sodium, as meals at restaurants tend to be heavy in sodium. 
  6. Avoid fried food. Choose grilled, steamed, or baked items instead.
  7. Avoid sauces, gravy, dressing, and butter. If necessary, ask for all sauce on the side in order to control the amount used. 
  8. Request low-fat condiments such as mayonnaise and sour cream. 
  9. Limit cheese intake or ask for a low-fat substitute. If ordering pizza, add some vegetables to it such as peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, or eggplant.
  10. If you’re craving dessert, opt for a small portion of low-fat frozen yogurt, ice cream, or sherbet rather than cake, pie, or cookies. 

With an active effort, healthy eating and living is achievable. Begin with making a conscious effort while dining out. Small steps will turn into leaps with time.

This article reviewed by Dr. Jim Liu, MD and Ms. Deb Dooley, APRN.

There’s nothing more important than our good health – that’s our principal capital asset.

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