Five simple tips to keep in mind when eating out!

I am sure most of you can agree that it is SO hard to eat healthy when eating out. I mean come on, we are surrounded by hot bread & butter, fried appetizers, hunks of meats, and sugary cocktails! It doesn’t help that the portion sizes could feed a wholly mammoth.  Eating out doesn’t have to be off limits! Below are some tips to help take the guesswork and stress out of eating out while still eating healthy.

Tip #1 Check the menu!

It is helpful to check the menu before you go out! The internet is a wonderful thing, take advantage of it!! We have access to thousands of menus right at our fingertips.  My husband thinks I am a complete creep for doing this EVERY TIME WE GO OUT, but it helps me stay focused and not eat like a monster.

Tip #2 – Speak up!

I worked in the restaurant industry as a waitress for 10 years prior to becoming a dietitian, so I know requests CAN AND USUALLY WILL BE MADE! Don’t assume that they can’t do it for you, don’t feel like a pest, and if you feel that you’re being “that person” leave a little extra tip ;). A few years back, I went out to eat with a friend of mine and I really wanted chicken marsala. I am aware that the chicken is fried, so I asked the waiter if they can substitute the fried chicken for grilled and to have whole wheat pasta instead of white (the menu didn’t mention whole wheat substitutions). They were able to provide me with grilled chicken marsala, with a side of whole wheat penne, I was very pleased! I’m serious when I say, you don’t have to eat grilled chicken salads EVERYTIME you go out to be “healthy”. Making simple swaps could cut back a lot of calories but not flavor!

Tip #3- Follow the Plate Method

I am sure you have heard of “MyPlate”, which is the updated version of the Food Pyramid. Well, in NY, I used “My Plate Planner”, which is the NYC Dept. of Health’s version with my patients. This basically means that you will fill up half of your plate with non-starchy veg, 1/4 with lean protein and 1/4 of complex carbs. This method allows the most flexibility, but with portion control in mind. If you want a hamburger when you are out, ask for a side salad with oil & vinegar or steamed veggies instead of fries. If you MUST have ranch, bleu cheese, or some type of rich dressing, ask for it on the side and dip your fork in it!

Tip #4- Split it or pack it! 

If you are craving something you are trying to limit (fried mozzarella for example), ask a friend if they would like to split an appetizer with you and get a salad for your entree. Again, balance out the plate without overindulging! If you don’t want to share, ask if there are half portions available or ask for a container to pack half of your dish for the next day.

Tip #5-Enjoy Yourself!

Living a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t be stressful or make you feel depressed. These tips are offered to you so you can still enjoy eating out while being healthy!

Now go grab and your friends or significant other and enjoy yourself at your favorite restaurant!



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