Tips for Eating Out

Going out to eat at restaurants can be very difficult if you’re trying to stick to a nutrition plan.  There are so many tempting foods that you’ve always loved to eat and the portions are usually enough to feed 2-3 people at least.  My first advice would be to try to limit going out to eat at restaurants as much as possible.  Not only are there too many unhealthy options, but it’s also very expensive compared to eating at home.  That being said, I know there are times when you have to go for work or your family wants to go out to eat to celebrate something, so never going out to eat isn’t realistic.  So when you do go to a restaurant, what do you look for on the menu and what should you avoid?

One nice thing that I’ve noticed lately is that some restaurants are putting healthy options on the menu that have smaller portion and come with sides of vegetables instead of chips or fries.  So if you see those types of options, I would suggest starting there.  If those aren’t available you’re probably thinking go with a salad, right?  That’s usually not a bad idea, except on some menus, the salads can be the most unhealthy options which is kind of surprising.  The reason for that is typically the dressing that goes on the salad.  A chicken ceasar salad is typically loaded with fat from the dressing that tastes so good.  Often times you also get a lot of cheese and crutons on top as well which just adds to your saturated fat and simple carbs, both bad things!  So if you are looking for a salad, I would suggest going with a grilled chicken salad with no cheese or crutons, and ask for the dressing on the side (ideally a low fat dressing).  That way you can control how much dressing you put on.  2 tablespoons of light ranch has 80 calories so just keep in mind that a small amount of dressing can throw your nutrition off for the day!

If you’re not big into salad there are other options that you can look for.  I would suggest looking for grilled chicken or some sort of lean meat, like sirloin.  Make sure the meat is not breaded and fried and that it’s not cooked in a lot of butter.  Also, you can really help yourself out when it comes to side options.  Most people get a massive heap of fries on the side, but more and more restaurants are offering healthier sides these days.  If you can substitute some fresh fruit or veggies instead of the fries, do that!  But make sure to ask the waiter to not cook the veggies in butter, because that’s typically how they’re prepared.

Also make sure to stay away from the bread that often comes before the meal.  I know it tastes so good, but it’s rarely whole wheat, and eating a bunch of white bread before your meal will kill your diet!  And when it comes to your drink, stay with water!  Switching from pop or sweet tea to water can drastically cut the unnecessary calories and sugar from your diet.  If you don’t like plain water most places will give you a lemon wedge for some flavoring or bring your own pack of crystal light to make it taste better.

So those are just a few tips for eating out.  I know going out to eat at restaurants is really tough and it’s not ideal, but looking for the healthy options can really help you stay on track with your nutrition plan!

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  1. […] to find healthy options.  If you’re wondering how to make good choices, check out my article Tips for Eating Out.  Also, while on vacation, here are a few things you can do to make sure your meals don’t […]

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