Eating healthy at home can be a piece of cake! Since you can make all of your meals, you are able to control the ingredients.
Eating out at restaurants, however, is a different story. You’ll find a lot of extra calories, fat, and sodium when the dishes are prepared by a restaurant chef who doesn’t have nutrition in mind. Plus, we all know those portions sizes can be huge!
But you don’t want to spend your whole life declining invitations to eat out for fear of not eating healthy, right? You still want to live your life.
And you can! The key is to know what to look for, which dishes to avoid, and how to order. Before you pick up that menu, ask yourself the following questions so you can choose the best healthy eating out options this weekend.
1. Are there healthy labels?
Thankfully, it’s becoming more common for restaurants to offer healthier menu items and label them. Look for any sections on the menu that say something like “Lighter Options” or have a healthy symbol next to them. I often see restaurants use a green leaf to signify dishes that are lower fat, vegetarian, or use more whole foods like whole grains.
2. How was it prepared?
Restaurants can sometimes be vague about how the main dish was prepared, but there are certain terms that can give you a clue. Be wary of the following terms:
- “lightly breaded”
For example, if a meat is described as “lightly breaded” or is contained in a wrap, that usually means it has been deep-fried. Plus, the tortillas used for wraps are often much higher in fat and calories than the two pieces of bread used for a sandwich.
And baked CAN be better than fried, but it could also mean that the meal was prepared deep-dish style with higher fat, often cheesy, ingredients. A good example of this: baked lasagna.
Instead, look for terms like:
These methods are often lighter preparation options that you can feel good about! Boost the quality even further by requesting that the meal be prepared with less butter or oil, or that the fat be subbed completely for water or broth. This is a great option for stir-fries.
3. What is the dressing or sauce?
Salads are another great potential choice, but not so fast—they can also be deceiving! Look out for creamy dressings loaded with fat and extra calories. And check out the ingredients within the salad for anything too fatty, such as shredded cheeses, bacon, or croutons.
Order the dressing on the side so you can control the amount. And if you don’t like an ingredient in the salad, order it without!
If you order an entree that comes with a sauce, omit anything described as creamy or full-flavor and ask to substitute something that is tomato- or vegetable-based.
4. How can I add veggies?
A lot of restaurants will have the option to add a side salad or side of vegetables. This is a great way to increase your veggie intake and fill you up with nutrient-dense foods while eating out. You may even be able to create an entire meal just from vegetable side dishes!
Just be cautious of how the vegetables are prepared. Ask if you can have them steamed without butter.
5. Can the dish be shared?
Restaurant portions are usually huge, which makes it tempting to continue eating until you are stuffed. And who can blame you, when there’s all that food in front sitting there? Plus, it’s easy to feel like you have to eat it all when you paid so much for it.
So, split it! Ask if anyone at the table would like to share the entree. If you’re worried half won’t be enough, add a side salad or some veggies to your meal. And if no one is in the mood to share, ask for a to-go box as soon as you get your food. Put half into the box before you start eating so you don’t have to stare at the extra food. Easy, peasy!
If you’re unsure, ask!
Restaurants are usually more than happy to help accommodate your dietary needs when eating out, so don’t be afraid to ask the waiter questions to understand what you’ll be eating. And if you still struggle to find healthy eating out options, remember that one meal is not going to derail your healthy eating. Just jump back on that healthy wagon with your next meal!
Note: If you do a lot of eating out, and even if you eat well at home, you might not getting the proper nutrition your body needs. Therefore, it’s a good idea to supplement with an organic, trusted product like Mimi’s Miracle Minerals.
And when you get home, make a healthy meal plan for the week. What matters most is how you are eating overall, so use these tips to do the best you can when eating out, and eat at home as much as possible during the week.