Eating out at your favourite restaurant or cafe needn’t be unhealthy. If you’re watching your weight you may feel anxious that by eating out all your hard work will go down the drain. Admittedly, it is easy to overeat or eat high-fat meals in restaurants because there is no way to control the preparation.
However, most restaurants and cafes these days have a wide variety of meals that will easily fit into your plan and still allow you to enjoy yourself, without making you feel like you are missing out. The key is to plan ahead, identify healthy choices and learn which restaurants offer low-fat, healthy food. You need to be creative in your choices and take the opportunity to spoil yourself if your budget allows.
Here are some tips to eating out that may help.
Skills and Strategies:
Select the restaurant carefully – avoid restaurants that serve exclusively fried foods, you know the ones I mean.
Call ahead to find out what is on the menu.
Exercise portion control – steer clear of menu descriptions such as jumbo, grande or king-size.
Make an attitude adjustment – eating out doesn’t have to mean blowing your diet. Have the belief that dining out can be healthy and enjoyable at the same time.
Don’t be afraid to make special requests; most restaurants are happy to help. Here are some examples:
Order salad dressing, sauces and butter on the side to control the amount you eat.
Ask for a side salad with French dressing or steamed vegetables to accompany your meal.
Request that foods be baked, steamed or poached instead of fried.
Ask to substitute a baked potato for chips.
Tell the waiter ahead of time not to bring the dessert menu at the end of the meal, or have a fruit platter for dessert.
Don’t eat all your meal if you’re full – ask the waiter to bring you a doggy bag and take it home to enjoy the next day.
Don’t have the bread roll or garlic bread.
If the dish comes wrapped in pastry, just leave the pastry behind.
Avoid dishes that are rice or pasta-based as these are the most fattening.
Choose tomato-based sauces rather than cream-based sauces. Low fat sauces include marinara, provencal, ginger soy, mustard, wine, ratatouille. High fat sauces include cream sauce, au gratin, lemon and butter, carbonara, cheese sauce, hollandaise, peanut sauce, tartare sauce.
Tactics to avoid overeating:
Choose soup and salad or an entree and salad instead of a main course. Or have two entrees.
Split a main course with your dining companion.
If you’re eating out in a group order one or two main courses fewer than the number of people dining and share.
Request a doggie bag at the beginning of the meal and immediately set aside a portion to take home.
Healthy choices you can’t go wrong with:
Oysters natural with a squeeze of lemon (a dozen of course)
Barbecue octopus salad, smoked salmon
Grilled lobster, Balmain bug, fresh seafood platter (no chips or batter)
Prawn and avocado salad
Chicken Caesar salad (ask to leave the croutons out and dressing on the side)
Soup of the day (no bread)
Stir-fried vegetables and meat, chicken or fish
Fish of the day – so long as it’s not deep fried
Roast lamb, beef, pork, chicken or quail
Any meat, fish, poultry dish that is pan-fried, baked or grilled.
Naturopath Susan Garrad is the Director of Women’s Health, Naturally Bangalow.
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