Eating out is a large part of the American culture. We go out to eat on a first date, to catch up with friends, and to celebrate special occasions. However, this culture has transformed recently into eating out as a way to avoid cooking or to get a quick meal on the go. That is where the problem comes in. Everything is okay in moderation, but when eating out becomes a multiple time a week event, then you really need to be careful of what you are putting in your mouth.
So how can you know what to choose, when you aren’t the one cooking? Below is a list of tips to help you master eating out in a healthy way:
- Add veggies. Whether this is to your burger, your burrito, your pizza, or as an alternative side, just do it!
- Choose one high-fat option. If you are getting a sandwich or salad, choose cheese, mayo, or avocado, not all three! Avocado is the best option, if you like it and have the choice.
- Ditch the bun or tortilla. Get your burger on a bed of lettuce or cut it up and eat it as is. If you have the option, make your burrito a bowl instead. If you can’t get rid of your beloved bun, get the middle cut out of a whole wheat bun or sub roll. Note that most sub places already do this.
- Choose fish, turkey, chicken, beans, and tofu first. Red meat is full of saturated fat that is bad for your heart. Not only that, but the farming of cows is actually the leading cause of environmental problems today.
- Avoid fried foods. That is not only fried chicken, but french fries, fried shrimp, spring/egg rolls, chips, and fried veggies.
- Get the sauce and dressing on the side. The most caloric part of salads is often the dressing and restaurants have the tendency to load it on. Even if you aren’t getting a salad, restaurants can always put the sauce portion of your dish on the side. This way you can control your calories and salt intake.
- Get thin crust. When ordering your pizza, make sure to get thin crust to cut down on your carb intake.
- Avoid cream-based sauces and soups. These tend to be high in fat. Instead, pick broth-based soups or vinegar-based or oil-based sauces. Note that all sauce should be eaten in moderation.
- Limit your alcohol and soda. Calories from drinks add up quickly. Therefore, try to drink water to not only save your calories for your meal, but also to save money.
- Read the light menu. More and more restaurants are either listing the calories on their menus or are including a lighter choice menu. This is your best friend. Note that there are still bad options on this menu, but if you apply the tips above, it is a great resource to start at.