Let me start by saying that when you dine out, you will most likely be upping the calorie, fat, and sodium content of your meals, so keep that in mind as a motivation to try to dine out less and cook more at home.
But sometimes our lives get crazy and we are forced to eat out; other times, we intentionally eat out as a time to connect with friends, family, or colleagues. How do we make healthy choices?
Here are my top tips.
Tip #1: Be smart about portions.
As Americans, we suffer from portion distortion. We believe that what we are served is how much we should eat. Generally speaking (unless you are at a gourmet French restaurant), a healthy portion is about 1/2 to 2/3 of what you are served. With this being the case, I advise people to separate their plate a bit to acknowledge what you will eat right then and there and what you will take home. If you don’t trust yourself, you could even ask for a box when the meal is served and remove a 1/3 to 1/2 of what is on your plate.
A couple of other ways to be mindful of portions is to split the meal with someone else or order from the lunch or appetizer menu for a smaller plate.
Tip #2: Choose healthier preparation methods
Avoid anything that would have trans-fat, mainly anything fried. If you see the words sautéed, pan-seared, crispy, scalloped, or pan-fried, dodge them! They are loaded with fat. Instead, choose foods that are steamed, broiled, grilled, poached, baked, or roasted.
Recognize that many sauces are not smart choices. Deny anything prepared with butter and steer clear of cream sauces. There is a reason why Fettuccini Alfredo is referred to as “heart attack on a plate
Tip #3: Make healthy beverage choices
Red wine is a great heart-healthy choice; it contains a heart-healthy flavonoid called resveratrol. Drink a lot of water as well; not only will this help prevent you from overeating, but also, hydration is important for heart-protection. Dehydration actually makes your heart work harder. Results from a 2002 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that drinking five or more glasses of water a day was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing heart disease than those who drank less water.
Tip #4: Beware of buffets
You must have mega trust in yourself to go to a buffet. So many people view buffets as a challenge more than a meal. They fill up plate after plate because they want to get as much as they can for the price of the buffet; this can majorly compromise your health. Fill up on salads with minimal dressing and veggies or lean protein prepared the ways I mention in Tip #2…and do not fill up plate after plate! One or two plates should be plenty.
Tip # 5: Find out easy meals you can prepare at home
Google “Healthy meals you can cook in 20 minutes or less” and you will find thousands of options. In my first Healthy Habit for 2020 (More fruit and veggies), I mention ways you can have healthy veggies ready for a quick meal any day of the week. And stay tuned four our new blog series, “Three Quick Dishes,” which feature three easy recipes you can prepare at home.