Eating out is part of our lives whether it's a business dinner, birthday party, eating on the run or just for fun. It's tempting to order foods that are high in calories and fat when you're out. Who wants to eat rabbit food when you can eat a slice of pizza or fried chicken, right? But eating out doesn't have to be a bust to a healthy meal plan. Believe it or not you can still make healthy swaps to your favorite meal. Many restaurants now offer healthier choices on the menu. Some of the larger chains feature the nutrition information online.
Next time you're out to eat, try these tips.
Ask the server to serve the sauce or salad dressing on the side. Try dipping your fork in the sauce or dressing and then your food rather than pouring over the entire entrée or salad. To lower the calories, ask for a vinaigrette based dressing like balsamic vinaigrette or oil and vinegar.
Look for dishes that are made using healthier cooking methods. Is your chicken grilled or fried? Choose baked, sautéed, grilled or roasted chicken, fish or steak. Are your vegetables steamed or fried? Ask your server for steamed vegetables. Find out if your dish is cooked with butter. Request to go light on the butter or use olive oil instead.
Remember, you can always add extra nonstarchy vegetables to any meal even if that's the only change. Next time you are eating out try swapping out the mashed potatoes or French fries for a side salad or side vegetable. Most restaurants will accommodate this request. Taking one small step like adding a vegetable to your meal is a big success. Remember vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and fiber that are important for your health.
French fries – Side salad, fruit cup, baked potato or sweet potato
Deep dish pizza with breadsticks – Thin crust pizza with vegetable toppings and salad
Double cheeseburger with fries – Single burger with a side salad. Try a turkey or veggie burger or even a grilled chicken sandwich
Fried chicken with potato salad – Grilled chicken with green salad or coleslaw
Fish and chips – Grilled, baked or broiled fish with mixed vegetables
Rice Bowl – Salad bowl
Sandwich – Lettuce wrap or small whole wheat tortilla wrap with extra veggies; or eat just 1/2 the sandwich and save the rest for another meal
Regular soda – Unsweetened iced tea, water or soda water with a lime
Remember, restaurant portions tend to be larger than you might eat at home. Box half of your meal and take it home or share your entrée with a family member or friend. If your meal comes with fries, offer to share them. Next time you order a sandwich or burger, take one half of the bun or bread off. Skip the bread basket or chips. Look to see if the restaurant has a healthy section to choose from. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want. Like any business, restaurants want their customers to be satisfied and come back.
by Katie Cavuto
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