Dining out is a national pastime, and most of us rely on local restaurants to serve us on holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, or everyday meals. If you dine out often, you want to ensure the menu items you choose do not negatively impact your health. Armed with a little knowledge, you can enjoy delicious restaurant meals without negatively affecting your health or weight.
How to Choose Your Food: Simple Tips for Dining Out
- Your Drink Choice: Choose water rather than soda or sugary iced tea. Sodas have about 40 grams of sugar, and a can or glass has about 150 calories, with zero nutritional benefits.
- Salad First: Eat a salad as your first course and ask the server for dressing on the side. Salads are nutritious, but loading on the dressing adds calories. You can ask for lemon or oil and vinegar as an alternative and use it sparingly.
- Calories Matter: Some restaurants provide calorie and nutrition information on the menu or upon request, but there is no need to guess. Download a calorie counting app on your phone and check the calories in the dish you want. Generally, choosing roasted, steamed, or broiled meats is better than fried.
- Sharing: Many restaurants serve large quantities of food – far more than your body needs. Consider sharing your entrée or eating half and taking the rest home.
- Appetizers: Rather than ordering an entire dinner, choose a couple of healthy appetizers. It is both fun and offers a greater variety of flavors.
- Side Dishes: Ask for fresh fruit, sliced tomatoes, or a small salad rather than fries, mac and cheese, or another high-calorie side.
- Avoid the Bread Basket: Fresh, hot bread or buns with butter are tempting. If you are hungry, drink a large glass of water, or eat a small snack before you leave home, and skip the bread and butter! Ask the server to remove the bread to avoid temptation.
- Read the Menu in Advance: Most restaurants have an online menu. Look over the various options in advance to ensure they offer healthy menu options.
- Lean Meats: Ask for lean meat options, or request something special. If you are on a strict diet, most places are happy to prepare a meal “off-menu.”
- Avoid Creamy, Rich Sauces: If the menu lists an item being rich or creamy, avoid it. These sauces are tasty but contain butter, cream, sour cream, or cheese that will add many calories to your meal.
Your Health and Your Family
Your spouse, children, friends, and associates rely on you. Staying healthy is not only crucial for your wellbeing and longevity, but it helps you avoid many health conditions. It can be difficult to transition to healthy eating for some people, but with practice, you will begin to enjoy your new routine. Your health insurance matters, too. Make sure you have the best coverage you can afford, so you can get medical treatment when you need it, and ensure you have a physical every year. Most serious diseases can be treated when caught early.
If you have questions about buying health insurance or moving to another plan, our helpful local agents can assist you in finding the best plan for your budget.