Many of us eat out these days. Whether it's a bagel and coffee from the corner deli or a fancy dinner to celebrate finishing treatment, when you're not cooking the food, it's harder to control what and how much you eat. If you eat several meals away from home every week (or get take-out), it's especially important that you make smart eating choices.
Here are some tips to help keep you on track when you go out to a restaurant:
- Eat the same portions that you do at home. Don’t look at a restaurant meal as a gut-busting splurge. If the portions are too large, ask to have half wrapped before you start eating.
- Don't be afraid to ask that a dish be specially prepared. The business of restaurants is serving you, the customer. Feel free to ask for a dish to be specially prepared (broiled without any additional butter or oil instead of fried, for example). If it can't be done, your server will tell you and will offer other ideas.
- Get what you want by ordering a la carte (order each item separately). That way you can get a side salad, a salmon filet without sauce, and steamed vegetables rather than the special of fried fish, french fries, and coleslaw.
- Ask for dressings, sauces, sour cream, and butter "on the side" or removed entirely from the dish.
- Don't eat mindlessly. Ask the server to remove the bread basket, peanut bowl, or basket of chips after you've had a small serving. Don't tempt yourself.
- Choose healthy food styles. Certain styles of foods are more likely to include a variety of fruits and vegetables. Indian, Middle Eastern, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Ethiopian, and Chinese restaurants often have many healthy choices. Try something new! If you're nervous, tell your server what type of foods you're looking for (low in fat and high in nutrients) and ask for some suggestions.
- Look at the side dishes and appetizers. If none of the entrees fits in with your healthy eating plan, you might be able to create a healthy meal from a side salad, a side of grilled vegetables, and shrimp cocktail. Order a double side salad if you want more than a small bowl.
- Pile up the veggies. If you're at a sandwich shop, ask if you can add extra veggies to your sandwich. Instead of a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, ask for a lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and green pepper sandwich on whole-grain bread or roll.
- Go easy on the alcohol. It has few nutrients and can weaken your willpower when the dessert cart comes around.