By Jordan Petersen
It can be a challenge to eat healthy food that isn’t loaded with sugar, salt, and fat when eating at a restaurant or fast food joint. While it is cheaper and healthier to eat at home, sometimes it can be nice to eat somewhere other than home, especially for special occasions. The list below explains ways to make eating out a little less challenging.
Know Before You Go
Make a list of fast food places/restaurants near you that have healthier items on the menu – Look at online menus of fast food and restaurant chains to see what kind of options are available. Write down any healthier options you would be willing to eat. Keep this list in your wallet or somewhere convenient when you know you are going out to eat.
Look For and Avoid Certain Words
Healthier terms to look for on a menu include “broiled”, “baked”, “grilled,” and “steamed.” These kinds of words mean that your food will be flavorful but not a lot of nutritional value was sacrificed. Unhealthy terms to avoid on the menu include “fried”, “crispy”, and “golden”, which all pretty much mean the food can contribute to heart disease. Avoid the term “glazed” as it can mean the food has been loaded with additional sugar. “Stuffed”, “loaded”, and “smothered” can mean a shocking amount of extra calories that you don’t need.
Choose the Obvious Healthier Option
Choose salad when asked “soup or salad?” Soup can be loaded with salt. If you ask for a salad, try to eat it without dressing, such as Ranch. If you do need some kind of dressing, ask if they have any simple vinegars or oils, such as Apple Cider Vinegar or Olive Oil. When ordering entree sides, choose any fruit or non starchy vegetables that are listed on the menu. If you are ordering any pasta or rice, ask if you can get brown rice or whole-grain pasta so you can eat a somewhat healthier meal. If you choose to order meat, try to choose a lean meat such as chicken or fish, but if you really want a steak, try to order the smallest ounced size of the leanest cut. For example, Sirloin has a lot less fat than a Ribeye steak does. If you choose to order chicken, go with skinless chicken because the skin is where most of the fat is.
Just Because It’s There Doesn’t Mean You Need to Eat It
Ask if your meal can be cooked without butter, salt, or any unhealthy toppings. Ask for them to be put on the side if you do want them. That way, you are more in control of how much butter and salt goes into your food. When you receive your food, ask for a “to-go box” so you can immediately put half of your food into it. This helps limit the temptation of eating more than you should. You can eat the rest of the food at a later time.
Outsmart The Sugary Beverages and Desserts
“What can I get you to drink?” is usually one of the first things your waiter will ask you. Instead of replying with “Mountain Dew” or “Dr. Pepper,” ask for water to drink and a lemon if water is too boring. If you do ask for something else like soda, tell your waiter to not refill your glass at all right when they give you your drink. Waiters usually automatically refill your drink before half of it’s even gone. For each refill, you might feel pressured into drinking more in order to drink it all. As for dessert, avoid taking a peek at the dessert menu and say no to dessert when asked. You can always make a healthier dessert at home.
Eating out can be fun and you don’t have to let “healthy eating” ruin it. Just be aware of what food you choose to eat and make better decisions about the food that goes into your body, even when you are out having fun.