Several years ago I walked into a certain very popular fast food chain and approached the counter to place my order, when something caught my eye. On the menu board, beside of each item was the calorie content of that item! I stood there, staring at the board, searching for something that wouldn’t consume the majority of my dairy calorie intake. I knew fast food had lots of calories. I thought I had always made pretty good choices. However, I quickly began to reconsider my choices. Burger, fries, and a drink- 1000+ calories….seriously? No wonder Americans have health issues relating to diet. Remember 5.8 meals per week are eaten out by the average person.
In my first blog post I discussed cooking at home more in 2017. I also stated that sometimes due to work or family schedules it’s necessary to eat out. Sometimes it’s just nice to go out and have a meal. But, that shouldn’t be an excuse to not eat healthy. In recent years, restaurants, fast food in particular, have made efforts to offer better food choices.
So how can you eat better when eating out? I start by trying to choose a restaurant that I know has some healthy choices. Spend some time looking at online menus. Many popular chain restaurants (both fast food and dine in) have free apps that contain nutrition information. These are great to have handy on your phone to use when ordering. Here are a few tips to remember. Grilled is better than fried. Choose a side other than fries such as salad, yogurt, or fruit cup. A large salad with grilled chicken makes a great meal. Pick water over soda (it’s cheaper too). Leave off the bread- yes it’s ok to eat a burger or sandwich with a fork. Check the menu for low calorie selections. Ask for a to go box before you start eating. Put half of your meal in the box to take home. Or, share a meal with a family member or friend. Ask the server not to bring a basket of bread to the table….out of sight, out of mind. Try something new! Order something that you usually don’t eat, like the grilled fish, asparagus, or a sweet potato. Be careful with topping such as butter, dips, and dressings. Use a spoon to measure out a serving or a small amount. Don’t just dump it all on your food. Remember restaurants portions are much larger than a normal portion of food and contain 60% more calories than home meals. Think about what you are ordering. Ask yourself- How many calories does this contain? How much nutritional value is in this meal? Am I going to regret eating this later? Begin your journey to a healthier you today.