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Steps to a Healthier Restaurant Meal

by Louise February 8th, 2019 | Diet
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tunaDining out can be a welcome excursion from cooking your own meal, but it can also lead to deviations from healthful habits. Restaurant meals tend to be oversized and overloaded with fat and sodium. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to make your break from home cooked meals as healthful as can be.

Before you go. Try to get a look at the menu beforehand to see if there are some reasonably healthy options. If you’re wondering about substitutions, call ahead to see if they will be possible. Some restaurants are more willing than others to make special preparations, but be prepared to pay extra if they allow it. A vegetarian version of a standard meat dish may cost you extra despite the ingredients being worth less.

Before you open the menu. Most servers start off with a drink order. The best you can do is simply order water. Otherwise, try to pick out a drink with less added sugar. If you start off with a soda, switch to water when they offer a refill. A number of restaurants will bring a basket of bread. A slice or a roll usually has about 100 calories. Feel free to grab one, but remember to factor it in when you order your meal. Choose to dip it in oil or vinegar, rather than spread butter on top.

As you order: appetizers. Ordering a salad? Have the dressing or cheese toppings on the side. Choose an oil and vinegar based dressing over creamy dressings for healthier fats and fewer calories. A similar idea applies to soups. Clear broth based soups, such as minestrone, are typically healthier than their creamy counterparts.

As you order: entrees. To avoid unhealthy fats and high calorie meals, try to avoid dishes that mention frying (stir or pan) or sautéing. Instead, look for items that are baked, roasted, grilled, steamed, or raw. Don’t be afraid to request the chef omit extra salt. Asking for a “dry” meal tells the kitchen to prepare a dish without added oil or butter.

Portion size is a common problem for restaurant goers. We want to eat what we paid for, where we paid for it, no matter how large it is. The temptation is great to clean off one’s plate. If you know that you’re guilty of eating more than you need, just because it’s in front of you, consider asking for half of your meal to be boxed up before it is even brought out to you. Alternatively, especially in a family setting, entrees can be shared to split the calorie count (and reduce the bill).

Happy, healthy eating!

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.