Understanding Your Options While Eating Out

Understanding Your Options While Eating Out

Cutting your calories and getting on that attainable workout routine is something we’re always working toward. It can be challenging, for sure, but nothing tempts any of us more than going out to a restaurant that we know has a delicious lineup full of strategy busting calories.

Thanks to our in-house registered dietician Judy Kolish, however, we’re able to arm ourselves with education in time for a night out at a great restaurant without going too off course from our dietary track. 

Let’s start off easy and make sure that we’re aware of the questions that we’re asking ourselves. Be mindful when eating and planning your meal. What should I take into consideration?

Here are a few things to ask yourself when planning on eating out: Do I know much about the food choices at this restaurant? Do I have a choice of restaurants?  Is this a chain restaurant?

Then, make a decision on what it is you’re ordering and how much:

  • Ask for a lesser portion no matter the cost or take half home right away or split the meal.
  • Is this a meal that will taste good reheated? This factors into how much to order.
  • Will I be satisfied with the meal that is better for me?
  • How can I make this meal better for me and feel satisfied?

Making sure that you’re aware of what you’re having for dinner is probably the most important aspect to making sure you’re eating the healthiest meal. Asking yourself these initial questions will help put these other tips into effect.

How do I eat out healthily?

  • Ravishing? Eat a piece of fruit or a small snack before you go to the restaurant to curb hunger.
  • No time for a snack? Drink a glass of water and order a healthy appetizer for the table.
  • Avoid impulse ordering when you’re very hungry and you’ll help to avoid temptations.
  • Think about what you want to order prior to going to the restaurant by reviewing the menu online.
  • If you really want something that is unhealthy, pair it with a healthier side and vegetable and avoid the high calorie desserts.
  • One dessert is enough for an entire family. Order one to share with several people.

What changes can I make to dishes to make them healthier? 

Restaurants often have a light or reduced calorie menu – choose from it for the better-for-you options. Be careful, however, because even though restaurants list lighter options, they may still carry anywhere from 800-1,000 calories.

  • Make simple changes to traditional dishes:
    • Ask for butter to be left on the side or avoided all together
    • Request dressing on the side
    • Request high calorie toppings on the side or left off completely
    • Substitute vegetables, fruit, or grains for fries
    • Ask if a particular item can be prepared differently liked broiled or grilled

What else can I look out for?

  • Bypass the appetizer: Why order 1,000 calories before dinner? Start with a green salad without bread instead.
  • Skip the beef burgers: Try a grilled chicken or veggie burger.
  • Lose the bun: Many chains will wrap your burger, sub, or sandwich in fresh lettuce or turn it into a salad. Or at least ask for a whole-grain bun or bread.
  • Veg out: Fill half your plate with fruit or vegetables. Beware, potatoes don’t count. Make the rest lean protein and whole grains.
  • Doggy bag it: Bring home half your entrée for tomorrow.
  • Don’t drink your calories: Soft drinks, sweet teas, alcoholic beverages all have significant amounts of calories and sugar.
  • Drink water: It’s free. Ask for a lemon or lime for it, too!

Knowing your terminology is important as well. When you see words like “smothered” (covered in some high calorie, high sodium sauce) or “glazed” (added sweeteners), it usually means that there are some added calories in that food although it may seem healthy. Look out for “Crispy” or “crusted” which usually means fried or breaded and aioli sauces are mayonnaise based. 

Do you have any tips for us? Let us know in the comments below!