Restaurant rules: 10 tips to eat healthier
written by Gayle Jennings, RD, CDE - Feb. 22, 2017
March not only brings warmer temperatures, the chance to open up the windows and get some fresh air, it’s also National Nutrition Month (R), a time to focus on eating healthy and being healthy.
If you’re like most Americans, you do a lot of eating on the run. People are looking for fast, easy and good-tasting foods that fit into a hectic lifestyle. No matter what you are rushing to, here is a top 10 list of tips to eat healthier when you are eating out:
- Plan ahead. When you’re about to eat out, consider what meal options are available. Look for restaurants with a wider range of menu items, and check out websites for nutritional information.
- Read restaurant menus carefully for clues to fat and calorie count. Menu terms that can be mean less fat and calories are baked, braised, broiled, grilled, poached, roasted and steamed.
- On the other hand, items listed as batter-fried, pan-fried, buttered, creamed, crispy and breaded mean they contain more fat and calories.
- Ask for it. It’s is fine to make special requests at most places, just keep them simple. For example, ask for a baked potato or side salad in place of fries; no mayonnaise or bacon on your sandwich; or sauces served on the side.
- Out of sight, out of mind. Hunger can drive you to eat too much bread or too many chips before a meal arrives. Ask your server to hold the extras until the meal arrives.
- Boost nutrition by adding lettuce, tomato, avocado, peppers or other vegetables.
- Switch it out. A baked potato offers more fiber, fewer calories and less fat than fries, if you skip the sour cream and butter. Top your potato with broccoli and a sprinkle of cheese or salsa.
- Eat lower-calorie foods first. Soup or salad is a good choice. Follow up with a light main course.
- Two trips. If you do go to a buffet, fill up on salads and vegetables first. Take no more than two trips and use the smaller plates that hold less food.
- Be prepared. Tuck portable, nonperishable foods in your purse, tote, briefcase or backpack for an on-the-run meal. Consider including peanut butter and crackers, granola bars, a piece of fresh fruit, trail mix, single servings of whole grain cereal or crackers.
Remember, small changes can lead to a big difference. Try something new today! For more information about National Nutrition Month, go to www.eatright.org/nnm.
Gayle Jennings, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, is a certified diabetes educator and registered dietician with the SIU Center for Family Medicine in Springfield.