Written By Mikkie Mills / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
It is easier to eat healthy when you cook for yourself at home. You decide which ingredients do and don't go into your meal, and you control the portion size. When you eat at a restaurant, a lot of those choices are made for you in the kitchen and are largely out of your control. However, eating healthy doesn't mean that you have to stay in and cook for yourself every night of your life.
There are ways that you can go out to eat on occasion and still maintain your commitment to healthy eating. Here are some suggestions to help you accomplish that.
Look For Clues In the Menu
Most of the time, the menu gives you clues as to how the restaurant equipment is used to prepare your food. Some methods of preparation are healthier than others. For example, you want to avoid any dishes described as breaded, creamy, fried, or smothered because these words indicate that the fat content is higher than what you probably want to consume.
Instead, look for foods that are described as broiled, grilled, or steamed, as these methods of preparing food use less fat and preserve more of the foods' naturally occurring nutrients.
Eat Slowly and Concentrate On the Task
It takes at least 20 minutes for your stomach to communicate to your brain that it is full. Try to eat your food slowly and savor it. If you take at least 20 minutes to eat, your brain will get the message and send one in return for you to stop feeling hungry.
On the other hand, if you eat quickly because you are hungry, you are likely to overeat before your stomach can send the message to your brain to stop. You should also try to concentrate on eating and not try to multitask during your meal. Otherwise, your brain may get distracted and not receive the message from your stomach that you are full.
Don't Go Out to Eat Empty
If you have a healthy little snack before you go out to eat, then you won't be quite as hungry when you get there. If you are less hungry when you get to the restaurant, you won't be tempted to eat as much.
Have Toppings and Condiments On the Side
Condiments and toppings, such as salad dressing, sour cream, gravy, and cheese, add fat and salt to your meal. You can minimize this by asking for toppings and condiments on the side. This allows you to control how much you use. One clever way of doing this is to dip your fork into the condiment before you use it to grab a bite of food. The flavor is the same, but the fat and salt content you consume is much less.
Look For Healthier Substitutions
Many dishes at restaurants are served with fries and other unhealthy side dishes. However, healthier options, such as vegetables or fresh fruit, are available as alternatives. Look at the menu first to see if any healthy substitutions are offered. If the menu does not list any healthy substitutions, it is acceptable to ask the server if it is possible to substitute a part of your meal with something healthier.
Most restaurants are willing to accommodate guests' dietary needs. However, be sure that you are polite when you ask. Rudeness to the server is unnecessary and unlikely to gain the desired result.
Control Your Portion Size
Some restaurants make controlling portion size easy by offering half-size entrees. If this is not offered on the menu, you can ask that your portion size be smaller than usual. However, your idea of what is small may be different from the cook's, and you may still end up with more than you need.
Portion sizes in many restaurants are sufficient to make two or even three meals. Ask for your meal to be served with a take-home box and put one-half to one-third of your meal into it right away when it arrives. It can be saved in your refrigerator for one to two days, meaning that you can make up to two more meals out of the leftovers.
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Mikkie Mills is a freelance writer from Chicago. She is also a mother of two who loves sharing her ideas on interior design, budgeting hacks and DIY. When she's not writing, she's chasing the little ones around, walking her dog, or can be found rock climbing at the local climbing gym.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.