To say that you will never eat out in order to eat healthy is unrealistic and probably unpleasant! A lot of socializing revolves around dining out, and there is nothing wrong with that. Where the problem MAY be, is what you are choosing when you are dining out.
Here are some tips to think of when you are dining out:
Manage your portions
Most restaurants and fast food places have very large portion sizes. It doesn’t mean you have to eat the full meal. Ask for extra vegetables and have the option to split a meal with someone
Avoid super sizing or adding “extras” (sautéed mushrooms and onions, bacon, extra cheese, etc.).
Ask how the food is prepared: Are the vegetables steamed? Grilled with oil and butter? Added salt? Fried? Baked with added oil? Is there sauce on the meat? Is the chicken breaded? What are the options for dressings?
Look ahead: If you know where you are going to eat, check the menu online and call to ask questions about food before you go so you are well prepared. This will help you make the right choice when you go to the restaurant so you do not feel lost in trying to keep track with your healthy eating habits
Making Healthier Choices
Ask for more vegetables: substitute fries or other unhealthy side dishes for a salad or steamed veggies.
Choose baked, broiled, or grilled meats/fish
Go for the whole grain option when you can: ask for whole grain bread, brown rice, whole-wheat wraps, etc.
Reduce sodium – Avoid smoked/cured meats and ask for low sodium soy sauce.
Be careful at salad bars: choose fresh greens, raw vegetables, fresh fruits, chickpeas, low-fat or fat-free dressings and avoid cheeses, marinated salads, pasta salads
Sauce on the side please!: Sauces, condiments, spreads, and dressings can add an alarming amount of calories to your meal. Ask for sauces on the side so you can have control of how much you add to your meals. Also ask for a lower calorie version of a sauce or dressing when you can.
Drinks: Avoided sweetened beverages such as iced tea, pop, juice, or lemonade. Opt for unflavoured sparkling water, low-fat milk, water, or a diet soda (if you really want one. Limit your alcohol consumption to 1-2 when you eat out.
Examples of different styles of eating to incorporate more vegetables and less calories!
Ask for steamed vegetables as a side
Instead of a mashed potato, ask for it baked and top it off with some salsa
Instead of a whole plate of fries, substitute half with a salad
Ask for extra peppers and onions with fajitas
Get extra salad with tacos or burritos
Ask for extra vegetables in your pasta dish and less pasta noodles
Instead of pasta, opt for an option that includes meat with a side of vegetables and a starch as a healthier alternative
Instead of a rice or pasta side dish, ask for a double portion of vegetables
Ask for extra tomato on bruschetta and leave out the cheese
Have a small Greek salad as a side dish with your meal
Go for sides such as green beans or roasted seasonal vegetables
Try some yemista (baked vegetables stuff with rice and herbs)
Opt for tabouleh or fatoush (salad with cucumber, tomato and peppers) as a side dish
Try authentic baba ganoush (eggplant dip) – limit to 1-2 tbsp as it can be a little higher on the calorie count
Ask for grilled vegetables with your meal
1. Ask to replace some of the noodles with extra vegetables
2. Try a vegetable dish such as eggplant, Chinese broccoli, or bok choy
Try mango or papaya salad!
Order pho with extra vegetables
Try a seaweed salad or cucumber salad instead of fried tempura
Order vegetarian sushi roll to get some extra vegetables in your meal
Order dishes with gobi (cauliflower) or saag/palak (spinach)
Try authentic indian vegeables like bhindi (okra) or baigan (eggplant)
Try matter paneer (peas an cheese dish)
Try a new leafy green, callaloo (similar to spinach)
Get a side of steamed cabbage or cooked plantain
Choose dishes that have pineapple or sweet potato
Regardless of the vegetables or dishes that you choose, be aware of the added oil, butter, sauces, condiments, or dips that are being added on or to the side of the vegetables (this is where calories are most often hidden – sneaky they can be….)
For more information or further questions about dining out, please email me at email@example.com
Fast Food options: Tips For Making Healthy Choices – Dietitians of Canada