The weather is finally breaking. Fellas are baring arms for the gun show and ladies pulling out their favorite sundresses. Man, I love this time of the year! But pretty soon, it’ll also be cookout and sidewalk café season and the trainer in me sees some potential missteps afoot. We enjoy restaurants more when the weather is nice, but the fact that we’re out and being fancy is not an excuse to eat unhealthy foods. Research shows that the foods we choose when we eat out are typically of less nutritional value than those we make for ourselves at home. So, to a homebody like me, the answer seems clear; save your money for high quality foods you can cook and eat at the crib! But I get that most people are already setting up this spring and summer’s RSVPs. So if you must go out, here’s how to do it in a healthy way:
1) Quiz ‘Em!
Don’t just go by the menu. When you place your order, make sure you ask how the food is prepared. For example, you might have ordered something grilled and think you’ve made a healthy choice. What you didn’t realize is that it’s coated in butter or slathered in honey first. Sure, your quick Q & A might irritate the wait staff but if you ask politely I’m sure they’ll oblige and you’ll have more control of your food intake.
2) Box It
If you go out to eat occasionally and absolutely MUST have that less than perfectly healthy option, honestly? Treat yo’self… in moderation. Most restaurants serve two to three times more than food labels list as a serving size. So, once you place your order, ask for a ” to-go box” on the front end. Before you start eating, put half your meal away. By doing so, you’ve right-sized your meal and even have some left for later. Brilliant and cost effective; my two favorite things.
3) Use Your Google(s)
Before heading out to eat, check the menu online. Most chain restaurants post their menus and all the nutritional information, so you have no excuse to claim that ” they only served unhealthy food so I had no options (insert sad, guilty clients’ name here).” If you see nothing healthy on that menu, pick another restaurant.
4) Read Between the Lines
Whenever you see words like ” creamy, breaded, crisp, sauced” is likely loaded with hidden fats and carbs. So while the dish sounds good to your face, it most likely isn’t to any other parts of you. pay close attention to food descriptions and look for an alternative route.
5) The Wolf in Health’s Clothing
Beware of the low-carb options. Many restaurants have jumped on the health band wagon and have put together a low carb list, but that doesn’t really mean low cal. For example, Ruby Tuesday’s has a meal called ” Low Carb New Orleans Seafood.” This ‘healthy” treat has 710 calories and over 40 grams of fat. Just so we’re clear; 40 grams of fat is a large percentage of most people’s fat intake. For the day. This, my friend is called “the jig.” Diner be ware.
6) Get Politely Picky
I have a friend who is an only child and so generally, people fed her whatever she wanted. They kind of created a monster. But, what’s interesting is that whenever she goes out to eat, she considers the stated menu just a suggestion. She’ll partner with the wait staff to see if a fried dish can be grilled, or have the sauce on the side, or make a meal from sides and a salad. So, if you can’t find a meal on the menu that meets your nutritional needs, see if the restaurant is open to helping you make one up! If you’re a fan of sushi, ask if there’s a brown rice option. If you order a meal with a choice of sides, get double portion of veggies. Yes; this even works at fast food locations. Take the bun of the burger. Peel the breaded shell away from the chicken nuggets. Somewhere under all that filler is your daily dose of protein.
* ask for check…starts car remotely through OnStar and suddenly needs to use the bathroom*