Frequently eating out can be an invitation to your first or next heart attack if not done with great caution and commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Largely due to the public's growing desire to become more fit and healthy, nearly all restaurants have added healthier options to their menus. The key is to know what to look for. Here are some tips for choosing healthier food when eating out.
- Eat small portions. Restaurants tend to serve way more than your daily nutritional intake allows. Take half the entrée home or split the meal with your friend.
- Skip the parts of the meal you like the least. Contrary to what your mother taught you, you do not have to everything on your plate.
- Select only those restaurants where you can order healthy, low-fat meals.
- Ask to substitute high-fat items, such as french fries for a side salad.
- Request items be made without butter or oil.
- Plan to eat lighter at noon if you are going out for supper. Don't skip meals, but save your calories as much as possible.
- Eat a healthy snack 30 minutes before your meal so you don't overeat.
- Avoid buffets and all-you-can-eat specials. You will always eat more than you should.
General menu choices
- Skip the breaded, batter-dipped, and tempura fried foods. Look instead for lower fat, grilled, broiled and flame-cooked. Other good choices include entrees that are steamed, poached, roasted or baked in their own juices.
- As yummy as they are, avoid croissants, biscuits, potpies, quiches and pastries. Instead choose hard rolls, bread sticks (if not brushed with butter), french bread or whole-wheat buns.
- Wine or thinned, stock-based sauces are best. Avoid thick butter sauces,
béarnaise, or creamy sauces.
- Choose salads made with dark greens like spinach and romaine rather than pale iceberg
- When ordering a sandwich, skip the mayonnaise and special sauces and instead ask for mustard.
- Order water with lemon and skip the alcoholic or carbonated beverage.
Healthy meal ordering tips by food category
- Request that your food be cooked without or with very small amounts of oil .
- Avoid wontons, egg rolls, sweet and sour choices, fried rice, fried dumplings, sesame
noodles, egg foo young and tempura.
- Choose items with large portions of vegetables.
- Choose barbeque, broiled or grilled chicken sandwiches if possible.
- Select roast beef instead of hamburger.
- If you simply must have the hamburger, choose a regular-sized one instead of the deluxe.
- Pasta with red sauce (marinara, red clam, or marsala) is an excellent choice unless the sauce has high fat meat such as sausage.
- Avoid cream sauces such as Alfredo or butter sauce as well as beef lasagna, cheese sauce or filling, pesto, carbonara, sausage dishes and garlic bread.
- If you pass on the sour cream and the guacamole, chicken fajitas, tortillas and Spanish rice make excellent food choices.
- Avoid the complimentary chips. You will eat more than you should.
- Avoid food items that are rich or fried such as chili rellanos, nachos, chorizo, chimichangas, flautas and taco bowl salads.
- Vegetable pizzas have about half the calories as a pizza loaded with "the works".
- When ordering pizza, ask for extra vegetable toppings and forgo the meats and extra cheese.
- Ask for half the cheese.
- Avoid potato and pasta salads, bacon bits, marinated vegetables, olives, fruits in heavy syrup and seeds or nuts.
- One ladle of creamy salad dressing can be about 300 calories. Instead, try a small amount of fat-free dressing or low-fat dressing.
- Select dark, leafy greens, raw vegetables, fruits, lean ham or turkey and cottage cheese.
- Trim the fat from the meat you order and pass on the sauces or gravy.
- The leanest cut of meat is a filet, flank, or London broil steak.