Eating Out? Make the Right Choices
Eating out is very common in today’s world. You don’t want to be the underdog by always refusing to eat out with friends, family and co-workers in order to eat good home cooked meals and stick to your health goals. In addition, people are traveling more than they used to – be it for work or leisure. However, it is possible to lead a balanced and healthy lifestyle and still eat out. All it takes is making a sensible choice.
While eating at a restaurant, food café, or buffet, we may not know which foods are loaded with fat and calories. This will continue to be difficult for people programs for weight loss or those with clinical conditions. But that doesn’t mean they don’t eat out. Nowadays, healthier options are available in restaurants and cafeterias, and a good selection can be found at buffets.
By simply following the simple guidelines below, you can choose healthy and guilt-free foods:
1. Skip the fancy drinks
Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages only contribute to the calories of a meal. The margaritas, pina coladas, and other fancy drinks are loaded with sugar. If a drink is a must, a glass of wine or a simple martini may be an option. For those who prefer a non-alcoholic beverage, buttermilk, jal jeera, or a light soda can keep the unwanted calories away. However, clear water is always the best option.
2. Appetizers and soups
Avoid fried or breaded appetizers, which are generally high in calories. Of course, you can also save calories by skipping the appetizer altogether. Steamed appetizers like momos, grilled chicken, dimsums, etc. are good options. When choosing soups, broth or tomato-based soups are your best bets. Cream soups, chowders, and pureed soups may contain whipped cream or egg yolks.
3. Salad Tips
If you choose salads before your main course, you tend to consume fewer calories overall. However, avoid creamy cheese, honey-based dressings, cheese, potatoes, bacon, fried pasta, croutons, etc. in salads as they are high in calories. Instead, squeeze a lemon or try rice vinegar or balsamic vinegar. If you want to order a salad with dressing, ask for the dressing on the side as the amount of dressing you put in the salad is within your control. A salad with just some veggies, corn, lean meat, or beans could be a great addition. Stir-fries can also be a good option in place of the salad so you don’t eat more calories later.
4. Watch the portion sizes
Since the dish ordered in restaurants is usually enough for 2-3 people, share the dish with your partner instead of eating the whole portion yourself. If you’re at a fast food restaurant, order the small meal instead of the big one. Ditch the fries and fizzy drinks.
5. Make your meals low in fat
When you go out to eat in a restaurant, always check how the food is prepared. Check if the food is grilled, poached, grilled, baked, or steamed, as it tends to be lower in fat than fried food. Limit foods that come with cream sauce or gravy. Avoid or skip serving butter, sour cream, gravy, and sauces as side dishes. This way you can control how much you eat as they are high in fat and calories. When ordering burgers and sandwiches, avoid ordering them with cheese, bacon, and other sweet sauces, and opt for whole-wheat or multigrain breads with added vegetables. For sandwich meals, opt for water and fruit or plain yogurt, if available, rather than sugary or fizzy drinks, chips, and fries. Choose seafood, chicken, or lean red meat over fatty or processed meats.
6. Add fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
At the fast food restaurant, ask if french fries can be substituted with fruit or salad. Order extra vegetables with pizza, sandwiches, etc. Indian, Thai and Japanese restaurants offer many vegetarian options. Always opt for brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat or multi-grain bread, and tortillas instead of white rice, pasta, or white bread.
7. Beware of overeating at a buffet
Check out the entire buffet before you start filling your plate. Always start with a soup (not creamy, broth based), fill the plate with vegetables; Opt for non-fried and less oily options. Instead of sugar-sweetened drinks, opt for plain water, buttermilk, or jal jeera. Avoid butter/oil laden kulchas, puris, parathas, butter nan and ask for plain wheat rotis. Instead of desserts, choose a freshly cut fruit platter. Always wait 5 to 10 minutes before looking for a second helping.
8. Watch what you eat when you travel
At the hotel breakfast buffet you do not eat large portions. Eat a healthy mix of high-carb and high-protein foods with some fresh fruit. Meet healthier foods with meals. Always drink plenty of water while traveling as this is an aspect that is often neglected. Pack healthy snacking options like roasted mahanas, nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, dried fruits like dates, anjeer, apricots, raisins, etc. to avoid unhealthy snacking. Instead of drinking fizzy drinks, always check the availability of coconut water, buttermilk, etc. Fresh fruit is also a good option to stay away from fried and other unhealthy foods.
Eating out in no way means giving up your health goals. By following the tips above, you can enjoy the meal with less guilt and stay happy and content. Today, healthy options are available when it comes to eating out, but guidance is needed on how to choose the right foods. Alongside individuals caring about their health goals today, we see companies investing in the health of their employees through theirs corporate wellness programs because their executives and other field workers are constantly on the move. Eating out doesn’t have to be uncomfortable – with the right choice, you can make it comfortable while staying in good health. Also for some people it will be difficult to continue programs for weight loss or those with clinical conditions. But that doesn’t mean they don’t eat out. Nowadays, healthier options are available in restaurants and food cafes, and a good selection can be found at buffets.
Thanks to Arati Shah