Let’s face it, we’re all busy. I’m busy, you’re busy – it’s just this life we live in. I would love to say that I can just whip up a quick totally nutritious meal seven days a week (and enjoy the process of chopping, cutting, steaming, sauteing, AND cleaning up) but the truth is… I don’t. I enjoy cooking… about 4-5 days per week, but when I am tired and busy and looking for something different, I LOVE going out to dinner.
Eating out – no problem, right? Wrong… (well, kind of, but not really). There is a slight dilemma with this quick, enjoyable fix for food if we are striving to be health conscious and cut calories. Most restaurants are not on “a diet,” in fact, they go to the extreme to make our entrees taste completely delish so that we keep coming back. This means added flavor, which usually means added butter, oil, sugar, etc.
Just because we are striving to be healthier, does not mean we have to avoid eating out; after all, eating out is a totally social and enjoyable experience (unless you have a one year-old!). Here are some “secret” tips for eating out from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a few of my own personal favorites:
- Walk to the restaurant. Take a stroll to your favorite place and make an evening out of it.
- Order an appetizer instead of a large entree.
- Ask the waiter to “hold” the bread or chips that come before a meal.
- Order the child’s portion (you can get away with this if you take your one year-old).
- Ask for the “to go” box as soon as you sit down and put half your entree in it and shut the lid.
- Share your entree from start to finish. Order one appetizer and one dessert for the entire table.
- Always order your food grilled. Never opt for the deep fried option – totally not worth it. It quadruples the calories.
- Order water rather than soda, alcohol, or flavored beverages.
- Order all sauces on the side (yes, you CAN be that picky nuisance who takes twenty minutes to order).
- Order broth-y soups and entrees rather than creamy soups and entrees.
- Eat a snack two hours before going out to dinner, that way, you avoid being famished when you sit down at the table.
- My personal fave: bring a hungry friend who will eat all of your food before you get a chance (I bring my husband).
- ENJOY. Enjoy the food you are eating ALWAYS, not just at restaurants. Eat slowly – no need to rush. Your taste buds need to know that you are eating so that they don’t feel jipped. Listen for fullness ques. It takes 20 minutes for satiety (feeling full) to kick in, so don’t rush for seconds until you wait. Just like life, food is to enjoy and you can absolutely do it in a healthy and low-fat way… even eating out!