5 Tips for eating healthy at restaurants
6/15/2015 3:39 PM
Eating out at a restaurant should be a treat, and it’s okay to indulge from time to time. However, making healthy selections can be a challenge when dining out. Follow these guidelines to eat smarter at restaurants.
1. Limit fried foods
Fried foods are much higher in fat and calories. Because of the breading on fried foods, the sodium content is also high. Often, fried foods are served with ranch dressing, which is high in calories and saturated fat.
2. Opt for healthier salad dressings
Salads at restaurants can be a great way to get your daily intake of vegetables, but be aware of salad dressing choices. As stated above, ranch and many other salad dressings are high in fat and calorie-dense. If you’re not careful, you can end up adding hundreds of extra calories to your meal with dressings and sauces. If you want to indulge in ranch or other creamy dressings, keep in mind that they can contain around 120 calories per tablespoon. It’s best to order these on the side so you can control how much you’re eating. If a salad comes coated in the dressing already, it can be as much as a ½ cup. Healthier choices include olive oil, balsamic vinegar and vinaigrette dressings.
3. Keep your meal balanced
Whether eating out or at home, you should strive for a balanced plate. Choosemyplate.gov has great recommendations for what kinds of food a meal should consist of. If I order a hamburger at a restaurant, I’ll ask for a side of fresh fruit rather than French fries. This not only helps me to have a more balanced plate, it can save me about 500 calories.
4. Portion size
Most restaurants have huge portion sizes, so request a to-go box when you order your meal and pack up about half of your plate before you start eating. You can also split a meal with someone who is eating at the restaurant with you.
5. Keep kids in mind
When it comes to kids’ meals, restaurants have come a long way. Today, fresh fruit and juices or milk are offered in place of French fries or sodas. Be sure to ask your server if these options are available, even if they’re not listed on the menu.