Alternative Healthier Food Options When Eating Out

Eating at restaurants and ordering something healthy is hard. This article probably won’t apply to you if you are eating out 1 to 2 times a week. However, if you find yourself going out more than that, you may want to consider these healthier food alternatives. Some of the reasons for eating out may range from going out with friends, work events, or because it may be convenient. When eating out, beware of portion sizes, quality of food, and not having a balanced meal. The average meal at a restaurant usually consists of an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert. Most times, a drink is also part of the meal, varying from alcohol to soda. This abundance of food can create an unhealthy lifestyle. My goal is to help establish guidelines or a cheat sheet when eating out. Consider the following healthier food alternatives.

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Here are food items you may want to avoid:

  1. Bread and butter: (If they offer it) Bread is highly processed and has very little nutritional value for the body. Bread and butter together can easily add a significant amount of calories to your meal. In this situation I would just pass on this choice altogether.
  2. Appetizers: Most appetizers on the menu consist of greasy finger food. Most of the food here is delicious, but also they can often be the unhealthiest foods on the menu. Instead of the appetizer, try a side salad. A salad can be a healthy food choice. However, most salad dressing is not as healthy as you may think. If it is possible, ask for olive oil and vinegar. If they do not have it, ask for the dressing on the side so that you can control the amount of salad dressing that is on your salad.
  3. Alcohol: Most of us do not drink enough water throughout the day. It is vital that you drink enough water to prevent dehydration. Take this opportunity to get some extra fluids in. If you cannot resist getting alcohol, then try to limit yourself to 1 drink. Consider a glass a wine.
  4. Foods covered in sauces: Foods that contain sauces on top are usually calorie dense foods. When ordering these foods ask for the sauce on the side or eliminate them altogether.
  5. Red meats: Red meat is not necessarily bad; just know that red meat usually has more calories per ounce than meats like chicken, turkey, and fish. Restaurants serve huge portions of red meat that can be hard to digest. Some individuals that eat a lot of red meat sometimes complain about feeling lethargic or constipated the next day. Try to order fish, chicken, or turkey; this is a great alterative to red meat.
  6. Carbohydrate dense foods: Foods such as rice, breaded foods, and pastas are some of these carbohydrate dense foods. These carbohydrates listed above are cheap and restaurants over-serve them. The average person consumes a high carbohydrate diet. Pass on those starchy carbohydrates and try to get those vegetables in. Go for vegetable sides and you can even double up on them. Vegetables are carbohydrates also, but they will provide the body with micronutrients and fiber that your body needs.
  7. Mashed potatoes: Mashed potatoes are loaded with milk, cream, and other additives that quickly add an excess amount of calories. If possible get a baked potato. Baked potatoes get a bad reputation, however did you know that it contains more potassium than a banana? Just get butter on top of the potato and skip all of the other toppings such as sour cream, cheese, and bacon. This will avoid those extra-unneeded calories.
  8. Dessert and sweets: This can be where most of us fail. It’s easy to get a sweet craving after a good meal. If you cannot resist, then try to eat a piece of fruit or get a fruit platter. With fruit, your body gets something out of it and it contains nutritional value. Fruit offers vitamins and micronutrients that your body can use and absorb.  

Eating healthy while going out to eat is not an easy task. There are many challenging choices to consider. The type of food, and the amount of food are crucial while dining out. It is possible to eat out and still be healthy. It won’t be easy and it will be tough. Control what you can and consider these healthier food alternatives.

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