Eating out is something that many people love to do for multiple reasons. You don’t have to cook or clean, you can try new types of cuisines and you can socialize with your family and friends. Many people who begin a weight loss or health journey get overwhelmed when it comes to eating out and aren’t sure how to go about it to make the healthiest choices. G-Plans is not a diet but rather a lifestyle change and therefore if eating out is something you love to do on a Saturday night, then continuing that on your plan is encouraged!
Here are 5 tips for navigating the menu when you’re going out to eat!
- How is the food prepared?
Regardless of what restaurant you are eating out at, different foods will be prepared different ways. Some items will be healthier while others may be higher in fats and carbohydrates. Many places will now title some of their choices with light, fresh, or skinny which are all words to look for that point out some healthier options in addition to dishes that are grilled or baked.
Foods that are fried, breaded, or even sauteed will have been cooked with oils, solid fats and butter. You can always ask your server how an item is prepared if you’re unsure and request for it to be prepared with vegetable oils instead.
Tip! Watch out for items served in creamy or sugary dressings and sauces as these may not be the best choices.
- Watch the toppings
You may go to a restaurant and look directly at the salads or sandwiches as your healthier option. Although these choices are sometimes the better ones, you still want to make sure you’re checking exactly what is in the item and what comes on top of it! Many salads and sandwiches have more added fat and carbohydrates and are higher in calories than other choices on the menu.
Look out for the ones that have a lot of cheese, bacon, tortilla strips, dressings, and mayos. The dressing on the salads are sometimes double or triple the amount you may need! Be sure to ask for the chicken grilled as many salads will come with a breaded version.
Tip! Ask for the dressing on the side and dip your fork into the dressing before you take a bite to use less.
- Turn down those extras!
When eating out, you’re usually greeted with bread and butter from the start or chips and salsa if you’re a Mexican food lover! You can actually request that they hold these things or place them away from you on the table so you’re not tempted.
Although appetizers are tempting and your group may want to share some, remember that you will most likely enjoy your meal more if you’re a bit hungrier when it comes! Turn down that appetizer since your food will be right out.
- Replace the sides
While many meals come with a side of french fries, you are in full control of your meal. You can always ask for something else! Feel free to swap for a side of vegetables, baked potato, side salad, or fresh fruit. This will allow you some more room to enjoy your main dish as well!
Drinks are usually a big part of the night as well when going out to eat. Keep in mind that drinks listed on the menu such as lemonades, iced teas, and sodas will add lots of extra sugar to your meal. When ordering a cocktail, remember that those made with simple sugars or liqueurs such as Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua, and Amaretto have more sugars and carbohydrates in them.
A healthier cocktail option would be a vodka or tequila with soda water and lemon or lime. These drinks will be lower in sugar, carbohydrates and calories, but are also stronger than a glass of wine so you will probably end up drinking fewer over the course of your lunch or dinner out.