Helpful Hints on Eating Out
Many people who are trying to lose or maintain their weight consider dining in a restaurant to be a forbidden luxury. Fortunately, with a little research and preparation, you can still manage to eat out, and find not only healthy, but tasty food options at most restaurants. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before your next meal out:
- Try to choose restaurants with healthy options or flexible menus.
- Try to avoid buffets and smorgasbords, since the urge to "eat all you can" may overwhelm your intentions to eat a healthy meal.
- Eat a light snack, such as a piece of fruit or a cup of yogurt, before you go to the restaurant. So you won't arrive feeling ravenous.
- If you order an appetizer, choose a salad or fresh vegetable plate, or broth-based soup. This is because cream-based soups are high in fat and sodium. Ask for a reduced-fat or fat-free version of the salad dressing and request that it be served on the side.
- Select lean cuts of meat, such as skinless chicken and fish, for your entrée. Use the chart below as a guide for some healthy and not-so-healthy preparation methods, which can be found in most restaurants.
|Low Fat Methods – Look for These ||Higher Fat Methods – Try to Avoid These |
|Au jus (in its own juice) ||Marinated in oil |
|Roasted ||Creamy/creamed/cream sauce |
|Steamed or simmered ||Gravy, hollandaise/béarnaise sauce |
|Broiled/charbroiled ||Au gratin/cheese sauce/cheese-filled |
|Poached ||Sautéed/fried/pan fried/deep fried |
|Grilled ||Breaded/crispy/golden |
|Baked || |
- Avoid dishes loaded with cheese, sour cream, or gravy. Choose dishes that rely on fresh herbs and other seasonings for their flavor, rather than fats and oils.
- If you have the choice of side dishes, select a baked potato topped with salsa or steamed vegetables rather than fried or mashed potatoes. Also, ask that any sauces or butter be left off your vegetables.
- Many restaurants offer portion sizes that are much larger than the recommended serving size. To avoid overeating, try cutting your entrée in half before you begin eating and take the second portion home in a carryout box. Click here for more information about controlling your portion sizes.
- If you will be ordering a dessert, choose a fresh fruit cup, sorbet, or frozen yogurt rather than a slice of cake or pie. If you do choose to order a higher calorie dessert, consider sharing it with your dining companion.