What are the trigger words that tempt you when you’re eating out? Creamy, buttery or crispy? When browsing restaurant menus, these tempting adjectives make it hard to choose the lighter, healthier options. But when you recognize them as trigger words, it can help you avoid some of the unhealthiest items on your menu. Here are eight tips for staying healthy, even when you’re eating out.
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1. Have Them Make it Your Way
At a sit-down restaurant, don’t be afraid to ask them to cook it your way. If you want veggies instead of fries, ask for it. If the portions are bigger than your nutrition or diet plan allows, ask for your serving to be halved or share it with someone.
2. Ask for Extra Greens Instead of Fries
Even at fast food restaurants, you can usually substitute fries for a healthier option. At a sit-down restaurant, replace fries with greens or a baked potato. If you order a baked potato, resist the temptation to load it up with bacon bits, butter and sour cream.
3. Surf the Healthy Side of the Menu
Ordering from the main menu is almost reflexive, especially at your favorite eateries. Instead of going for your usual entrée, surf the healthy side of the menu for a light wrap and soup.
4. Fill Up on Salad and Water
According to a study conducted by Penn State researchers, eating a large salad prior to your main course will fill you up so that you won’t want a high-calorie entrée. Make sure to sip water while you eat to fill up on healthier alternatives.
Remember not to load your salad with meats, cheeses and creamy dressings that will pack the calories back into what should be a healthy menu option. Pre-made salads like chicken Caesar salads and cobb salads are often loaded with fat and calories. If salad isn’t your thing, soups are another healthier alternative, but go for the broth soups, not the hearty cream soups.
5. No Bread, Dessert or Fattening Drinks
Without bread, dessert and a margarita, why even go out to eat you may ask. You can find healthier alternatives to these diet bursting extras. Unless there is a healthy fruit bowl on the dessert menu, skip it.
If the restaurant gives you a basket of bottomless bread or chips and salsa, ask them to take it away. People have the tendency to overindulge on these items, turning the chips and salsa freebies into a bad choice. Sugary alcoholic drinks present the same risks to your diet. Avoid piña coladas and margaritas.
6. Beware of Fast Food Value Menus
Value menus are cheap and easy but even a small portion like a small fry and burger can add over a thousand calories. Before you choose from that value menu, look for healthy alternatives like a side salad and a baked potato.
7. Skip Movie Theater Popcorn
Sharing a tub of popcorn in a movie theater is part of the overall experience of a night out on the town. Yet that large tub of movie theater popcorn, even before you saturate it with butter, exceeds a thousand calories. Pack something healthy to snack on in your purse or pocket to avoid the snack bar at the movie theater altogether.
8. Slow Down and Chew Your Food
Lastly, you are full at least twenty minutes before your brain realizes it. Chew your food and eat slowly to prevent overeating.