Many super-busy clients of mine often struggle with this thought: What can I order, that is healthy AND will fill me up?
Here are a few tips on how you can make smarter choices next time you're out to lunch at the fast food counter or dining out with friends or family.
Order from the "Light" "Healthy" "Low Fat" Items on the Menu
Most restaurants will have these options on their menu (yes, even fast food chains). These items will often have their nutrition information listed and are often less in calories and fat, and/or prepared in with healthier methods than items on their regular menu.
Think About How It's Prepared
Grilled, boiled and baked items often will have less fat and calories than deep-fried, fried and breaded items on the menu.
Watch for Sauces!
Creamy sauces and dressings will often have more fat and calories than tomato or vinegar/oil based dressings. Remember that you can always ask for sauces and dressings on the side.
Box Half Your Meal Before it Arrives
Ask the server to doggie bag half your meal before it arrives to you at the table. Or, split an entrée with a friend instead of ordering your own.
Opt Out of Fancy Drinks
Stay away from mixed drinks and cocktails, which often have sugary additions that only add extra calories. Stick to a glass of wine, light beer, or hard liquor on water or ice. Remember, it is OK to indulge and order what you want once in a while. However, if you're dining out more often than not, these tips can help you eat smarter next time you're out!
Remember: Ask Nicely!
So I come from a culture where you do not often ask questions about your food, nor do you ask them to change things on the menu for you. But let me tell you: as a registered dietitian who is aware of all the allergies, intolerances, dietary restrictions and food-related medical conditions that people have to live with everyday - I think there is nothing wrong with asking the restaurant to accommodate your healthy eating requests. My only condition for this, is that you ask nicely.
Restaurants will be more than willing to serve you as the valued customer, but please be kind about it! It will make it easier for everyone around you, including yourself :)