10 Tips: Eating Out and Staying Healthy

With the variety of restaurants available these days, dining out has become the norm rather than the exception. Gone are the days when going to a restaurant was a one-off event reserved for special occasions with family or friends. Hectic lifestyles and busy schedules often make dining out a necessity, and for many it can mean eating out several times a week and more than one meal a day. The problem is that it can quickly put an end to your healthy eating plan or weight loss program. The good news is that these days it’s much easier to eat out healthy than ever before. Here are 10 tips to help keep you on the right path to better health and a leaner you.

1. Plan ahead. Try and choose a restaurant that has more healthy food options. Avoid buffets. They often have some healthy food options, however filling your plate and overeating can be a problem.

2. Take charge and choose wisely.. Ask your server.. How do you prepare this dish? Does it contain butter? Cream? Dip? How big is it? What else is in this salad? Dressing room? Croutons? High fat cheese? Bacon? Ask that food be prepared without added salt, MSG, or salt-containing ingredients. Ask off the menu. Many chefs will prepare poached or steamed fish or vegetables instead of frying. Stay away from the fried ones.

3. Skip or limit the bread, chips or whatever is in the basket while you wait for your food, at least skip the butter. If it’s too tempting, ask the server to take it off the table. Out of sight, out of mind.

4. Ask for salad dressings and sauces on the side. They often contain more calories than the foods they flavor. The salad dressing of choice would be a light or even better dressing, again, served on the side. Limit condiments, such as mustard, ketchup, pickles, and sauces with ingredients full of salt and sugar.

5. Avoid dishes with cream, mayonnaise, sour cream, butter, and avoid cheese.

6. Swap fries for a salad.

7. Trim visible fat from meat and poultry. Even very lean meats and poultry still contain fat. Remove the skin from the chicken.

8. Ask that your dish be prepared with olive oil, instead of butter or fat.

9. Remember you don’t have to clean your plate. Keep portions small. Put half of the food in a take-out container before you even start eating. Do not swallow the food. Digestion begins in the mouth. Chew well.

10. Wait a bit before ordering your dessert to let your main meal settle. If you really must order dessert, choose fresh fruit or fruit sorbet instead of sugar-laden desserts. If you really can’t resist, consider splitting it up and sharing it with a friend.

Copyright 2009, Brendan McCarthy. All rights reserved.