The truth is, you don’t have to over-indulge to have a great dining out experience – here are a few simple tricks you can use to enjoy a night out and stay on course with your healthy lifestyle:
- Order an appetizer for a meal or choose a smaller plate (lunch portion or child size). America has become known for our supersized portions and if you were to measure out a normal restaurant entrée, you probably will find that you are getting two, three, or maybe four portions in that one dish!
- But if you really want that entrée, split your meal with a friend or ask for a takeout box before you begin eating so you can take half of your food home. When food is in front of us (and delicious), it can be difficult to stop eating it!
- Ask for it your way. With the always changing dietary guidelines, fad diets, and increased incidence of food allergies, restaurants have become accustomed to modifications. Don’t hesitate to ask for your entrée to be modified to make it healthier! On the menu fried? Ask if it can be grilled. Side of fries? Ask to substitute steamed veggies. Come topped with a cream or butter sauce? Ask for it on the side.
- Think ahead and have a plan. Browse the menu online before even selecting the restaurant to make sure they have healthy options and pick out what you are going to order before even getting there so you aren’t tempted or surprised when you arrive.
- Don’t fall into the salad trick! You see salad and immediately think it is healthy but salads can be more calorie and fat dense than other entrees on the menu! Ask for an oil based dressing and get it on the side so you can control how much you will use. Avoid things like extra cheese, bacon, and candied nuts as toppings.
- Pasta lover? Opt for a marinara sauce over a creamy Alfredo or cheese sauce. And be mindful of portion sizes – remember, one serving of pasta is about one cup.
- Try meatless food more often. You might be surprised how much you like a vegetarian option that is expertly prepared.
- Avoid dining out with a large group. Large groups tend to over-indulge in appetizers, alcohol, and desserts. You will feel less pressured to order these items with a smaller group.
- Treat treats as treats. High calorie desserts should be treated as a treat and not a meal. Even better, make your own desserts at home so you can control how much of each ingredient you put into it. And if you are always making your own treats, you probably won’t eat them as often…
- Limit your alcohol intake. Alcoholic beverages can be an easy way to over-consume calories without even realizing it. Keep in mind that a 12 ounce beer is about 150 calories, 5 ounces of wine is about 120 calories, and a fruity cocktail like a pina colada can add another 490 calories to your meal.
Posted by: Azar Liliabadi, owner of Eat Well With Azar, LLC
Remember, the Chamber has plenty of resources that can help you on your journey to better health – click here to learn more about the Healthy Workplaces Initiative.