Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and many people will be going to a restaurant for a nice dinner. Will you be dining out on Valentine’s Day? It can be hard to eat healthy while still enjoying a meal at a restaurant. These are my 10 tips for making healthy food choices when dining out.
- Check the menu online before you head to the restaurant. I like to look at the menu ahead of time so I can figure out what I am going to order. Also, if I don’t see anything that is healthy, I will know to choose another restaurant instead of being stuck there once I arrive.
- Avoid the bread basket! I try very hard to avoid simple carbs like bread. Some restaurants will offer rolls, breadsticks, or tortilla chips when you sit down or shortly after you place your order. Do not fill up on these items. Avoid the temptation and send them back! If others at the table want them, sip on your water.
- Look at the descriptions for how food is prepared. I avoid foods that are fried, dipped in batters, or prepared in cream sauces or gravies. Look for foods that are baked, broiled, grilled, steamed or sautéed in olive oil.
- Start your meal with a salad. This is helpful in controlling hunger and will make you feel full sooner while eating your main course. Make sure to ask for the salad dressing on the side when you order. I like dip my fork in the dressing and take a bite of salad as a way to decrease the amount of dressing that I actually use.
- Drink water. Try to avoid drinking soda, juices and alcoholic beverages. They are filled with added sugar, calories, and carbohydrates. If you must order a glass of wine or a beer, slowly sip on it throughout the meal.
- Make substitutions. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can make a substitution. For example, ask for a lettuce “bun” if you are ordering a hamburger and/or sandwich, or ask for a side salad or veggie in place of french fries or cole slaw.
- Avoid condiments. Try to avoid added condiments such as ketchup, mayo, and salt. If you absolutely need the mayo or ketchup ask for it on the side. Again, this helps you to be in control of how much you add.
- Chose a lean protein as your main course and have steamed vegetables as a side. Select items such as chicken, pork, fish or steak and choose a steamed veggie to go with it. Avoid sauces, gravies, and added butter
- Control portion sizes. Restaurants often have large portion sizes. I recommend splitting a meal with a friend or significant other. Another thing that I often do is ask for a “to go” container and place half of my meal in the container and bring it home to eat the next day
- Skip dessert. As tempting as it is, skip it! You will save on calories and fat
I hope these tips help you the next time you eat at a restaurant! Do you have any tips that I did not mention? I would love to hear them if you do!