Eating out is one of the biggest diet killers and a sure way to eat unhealthy. It will make you fat. But sometimes you just can't avoid it. Traveling, catching up with friends, and being short of energy and time usually results in a restaurant meal. By the way, even if you ordered it in and eat at home, it's still a restaurant meal!
Since you're eating out, you probably want to treat yourself. Go ahead and do so - just follow some simple rules. We were delighted to find this great New York Times' article that believes the restaurant scene is offering healthier food choices. We've added some of their tips to ours to create an easy mindful cheat sheet.
What to do - Eat Out Smartly
- If you can, choose your restaurant carefully. Pick a high quality restaurant that focuses on real food. Mediterranean restaurants are often fresh, healthy and flavorful. There are also some fast casual chains that are health conscious: Chop't, Mod-market, Lyfe Kitchen, Native Foods Cafe Sweetgreen and Pret-a-Manger.
- Scrutinize the menu and try to order whole foods that are grilled or less sauced.
- More plants, less meat.
- Some menus have "healthy" options with less calories and fat. Focus on these. They are often called "heart-healthy" or fit. The NYT points out that even the Cheesecake Factory has a "SkinniLicious" menu with over 50 items less than 590 calories.
- It's all about portion control. That restaurant meal you are eating has more than twice - sometimes four times - the meal you would make at home. To combat that, leave half of your meal on the plate (you can take it home) or order two appetizers instead of an appetizer and an entree. If you can't take food home, just leave it! You didn't ask for such a huge portion so you can leave it guilt-free.
- Be wary of white sauces. Stay away from mayo, caesar dressing, ranch dressing, hollandaise, cream sauce. It's loaded with fat and calories. Add zing to your food with lemon juice, vinegar and mustard.
- At a steak restaurant? Choose the filet mignon. It is the lowest calorie option. According to the NYT, filet and a glass of wine will clock in under 750 calories.
- Eat only delicious bread. It's easy to be mindless about bread. Choose a flavorful, whole grain bread and have just one piece.
- Drink water. Lots of it. It's good for your skin, and all those juices have calories. Diet soda is full of chemicals.
- Eat eggs and oatmeal. They are both healthy, as long as they are as natural as possible. Don't add sauces or sugar! You can often find eggs for lunch or dinner at a diner. If you're having breakfast, the processed stuff like pancakes and waffles are NOT the way to go. Bacon and sausages? Have ONE if you need to. Split the side order or leave half of it on the plate.
- Do not get your own dessert! You did a good job with your meal, don't blow it! After a calorific meal, desserts are calorie bombs. Just get fresh fruit (nothing on it), or share a single desert with at least one (preferably more) people.
What I ate: 15 oz. green juice, greek yogurt with blueberries and strawberries, one egg, 2 c.Trader Joe's Japanese fried rice, 12 oz decaf coffee, cheese and crackers, nachos, eggplant kottu, fruit salad, 2 c. cherries, 45 oz water
Exercise: jogged 5.8 miles