Next time you go out to dinner, consider this: the average meal at large chain restaurants have 1,128 calories—more than half of what most people should eat the whole day. As you can probably imagine, many meals are much worse than that. For example, the Chicken and Biscuits at Cheesecake Factory has 2,260 calories! To order healthy food after looking at the sumptuous menu can be a difficult task.
Eating out is one of the most loved things in life. But if you’re watching what you eat, a restaurant visit can sometimes feel like tiptoeing around nutritional land mines. Here are 10 top tips.
- Beware the word “crispy & crunchy”
“Crispy & crunchy” is usually code for “fried,” and “fried” is code for “dunked in batter and then plunged in oil” — not the healthiest food choice you can make.
- Start with a soup or salad:
When you start your meal with soup or salad, your body tend to eat less during the rest of your meal, according to research. Vegetable-based soups and salads are a good way to get some fibre and other nutrients into your meal, which starts to fill you up.
- Skip the bread:
If bread is the favourite part of eating out, then sure, go for a slice. But unless the bread is really great, it’s often not worth it.
- Go for grilled, roasted, baked, broiled, braised:
These cooking methods don’t require much-added fat, so the dishes that are prepared like this may be healthier.
- Go for clear broth instead:
For the healthiest start to your meal, skip the cream-based options. It’s usually a safe bet to order something like pasta, minestrone, rather than cream of broccoli.
- Do your homework:
If you’re really concerned about what you eat, it may be helpful to read the menu before you get to the restaurant and decide what you’re going to order. If you’re eating at a chain restaurant, you can even look up their review of nutritional information ahead of time so you can make the healthiest choice.
- Order leaner cuts of meat:
T-bone, sirloin, flank steak, strip steak and pot roast are all lean cuts of beef as they will have fewer calories and less saturated fat than some of the other options on the menu. Poultry is also a smart way to go, as is seafood or tofu.
- Share dishes:
The quantity of food served differs broadly from restaurant to restaurant. And while this may seem like a good value, it’s really no bargain when it comes to your health. The best option is to share the main dish. Then you can each start off with a side salad or soup. You get plenty of food, you save money and you keep calories and other numbers in check.
- Avoid processed and highly fatty meats:
Most of the high processed meat people love eating are actually the fattest part of them. Likewise, bacon, sausage and short ribs are items to avoid when you’re trying to eat healthfully.
- Order off the kids’ menu:
Another way to get the healthiest part of a dish is to order off the kids’ menu. Case in point: A burger on the kids’ menu is usually 3 to 4, whereas on the regular menu it’s often 8 ounces. Likewise, kids’-size fries or ice creams are not a huge calorie splurge, but you’ll get some of the indulgences you crave.