The average American eats out at least once a week but if you count lunch, that number can increase up to 7 times in one week. The U.S. healthcare bill signed into law a provision requiring restaurant chains with 20 or more outlets make complete nutrition information available somewhere in each location. The calorie counts have to be listed for all standard menu choices, plus items on salad bars or buffets. This is a win for those working towards eating healthier. The next time you are in a chain restaurant, many of you will be shocked! Perhaps your favorite dinners will have the calorie count equivalent to your entire day’s worth of caloric intake. It’s no wonder that Americans have become one of the most overweight countries!
Here are some tips for eating out and eating healthy:
1. Remember to count your beverages as part of the calorie intake.
2. Eat half portions, taking the other half home for lunch the next day. Almost all restaurant portions are much larger than what our body needs and bigger than one portion.
3. Only order foods you really, really love and savor every bite.
4. Ask to substitute high-fat items like french fries for baked potato or better yet, baked sweet potato (minus the butter).
5. Enjoy a salad with dark greens rather than iceberg but skip the creamy dressings, bacon bits, cheese and croutons. Instead, pick veggies and oil and vinegar or lemon-based dressings.
6. Avoid buffets and all-you-can-eat meals; the temptation is just too great.
7. Broth-based soups are a great way to start a meal.
8. Stick to stock-based or wine sauces, not butter or cream sauces.
9. Grilled, broiled, baked, steamed, poached or roasted is better than batter-dipped, tempura or fried foods.
10. And yes, you can have pizza but forget the high-fat meats and order extra veggies.
Although eating out can be a little more challenging, depending on your choice of restaurant, you can make wise, healthy picks. It’s not an invitation to eat whatever you want or those high-fat, high-calorie meals will add up. Food should be enjoyed… so go out to your favorite restaurant, choose wisely and savor each bite!