Probably the most difficult time to eat healthy is when we’re going out to eat. Restaurants earn their money by serving the most tempting, tasty, decadent food you ever tasted. Unfortunately for us, that’s because they’re generous with salts, fats, sugars, creams and butters we should not be eating in large amounts. The good news is, as long as we exercise good choices, we can eat out and still eat healthy.
The Right Restaurant: The fist healthy choice to make is the right restaurant. Sometimes you’ll have no choice about this, but when you do, it’s important to make the right choice. It’s best to choose restaurants that take orders and serve you at the table. Fast food is notoriously unhealthy, you have few good choices and no control over how the food is prepared or served. Buffets offer a wide variety of foods, but you’re usually allowed to eat all you want. With good self-control, you may still be able to choose foods for health at a buffet.
Healthy Menu Selection: Even at a buffet, we can choose the vegetable salads, the light dressings, the low fat entrées and avoid the fatty, creamy, fried stuff. This is the same thing we do when reading a menu in a traditional restaurant. We’ll want to skip all the beef, pork, cheese, and fried options. Grilled, baked or stir-fried poultry or fish are the most healthy options. Read all the ingredients, though, because some of these dishes are baked in a butter or cream sauce, or are breaded and “oven-fried.” Of course, green are a far better choice than those creamy, oily, salty salads (like potato or macaroni). The same with soups…always choose broth over cream.
Ordering For Health: Once we’ve made our menu selection, the next step is ordering. Ask, “How is that prepared?” and avoid things fried, baked or soaked in oils, butters or creams. Always order salad dressings and sauces “on the side,” so you can dip the food into it and enjoy the flavor but still be in control of the amount you’re eating. Vinegar and oil are the most healthy salad dressings, but you can choose any kind as long as it’s on the side. Water is probably the best thing to drink with your meal, diet soda is probably next best. Milk and juice are high fat or high sugar options. Alcohol should never be consumed while eating because it increases our appetite and capacity for food. Dessert is something best done at home, where you can control the portions and ingredients.
Portion Control: Now, you’ve got your food…dig in, right? Wrong! Restaurants almost always serve you too much to eat, but we were taught by our Mommies to clean up our plates. So, the first thing to do is figure out a serving size, cut that amount off (usually half) and move the rest to the other side of the plate. Do the same thing with potatoes, rice, noodles, etc. Now we can eat all of the salad, all of the vegetables and a serving each of the meat and starch. Then we have a great meal to take home for later. Even if you don’t eat leftovers, it’s better those extra portions go to waste than to waist.
Now you know how to enjoy eating out and still be eating healthy. If you eat out as rarely as we do (once a month, or less) you can follow another, simpler rule. The rule is, enjoy yourself by eating the rare treat and make up for it at home. After all, life isn’t all about rule-keeping. Either way, I hope to meet you in some nice restaurant in an exotic location. If I do, I promise not to tell if you don’t. We can always do more exercise when we get home.
Written by Glen Williams, Founder of E-Home Fellowship (EHF), Co. He has counseled and helped people on life and health issues since 1987. Check out his site [http://E-Health-Fitness.com/] for more information on this and other topics.