It used to be that eating out was a special occasion. Now, the average American eats out 6 times a week. If you eat out frequently (more than 3 times a week), then restaurants are providing you with a significant source of nutrients!
Unfortunately, restaurant foods are typically high in calories, fat and sodium and low in beneficial nutrients like vitamins, phytochemicals and fiber. This article will help you make choices when you eat out to minimize the amount of damage to your body.
- Avoid Buffets! Research has told us that when people are offered a variety of food at one time, they eat more. Research has also showed that when people are offered large amounts of food at a time, they eat more.
Buffets are the worst of both worlds! They offer a wide variety of large quantities of foods. This is a deadly combination when it comes to health. If you have to go to a buffet, order a meal rather than paying for the buffet. Contrary to instinct, it is NOT a good deal to get an abundance of calories for cheap. Those calories are going somewhere, and it might as well not be on your waistline!
- No matter where you go, there is a “best” choice (or two!). Don’t get caught up in the defeatist mentality that there’s nothing good to choose from so you might as well get the burger, fries and biggie soda! No matter where you are, find the best choice. It might be a few sides that you order instead of a meal.
- Get the Nutrient guide. Don’t play dumb when you order. Know what you’re getting when you get it. Almost all fast food restaurants have nutrition information in the store or online. Many chain restaurants also have their nutrition information online.
Check it out before you go so that you know what you want to order before you get there. Another option is to purchase a restaurant guide from a bookstore or online. My favorite is Calorie King.
- Look for the “Light” Menus. Maybe the restaurant you chose didn’t have the nutrition information. They might have a icon on the menu to indicate the healthier items. [Just as a note, if it’s marked as low carb, it’s not likely to be healthy. Many times it is an excuse to sell you a high fat meal with “no carbs”].
If you don’t see signs of healthy options, ask your server what options they have that are healthy.
- Avoid foods described as “fried”, “creamy”, “cheesy”, or “rich”. These words are very appetizing, which is why it’s on the menu! Marketing professionals pay a lot of money to know what sounds best and helps grease the money out of your wallet! These are just fancy terms for “fatty”.
Stay tuned for the Part II, where you will get the next 5 tips!