Healthy restaurant eating can seem like a challenge. But the bigger the menu, the more choices you have and the easier it will be to find something healthy. Read on for some tips for eating healthy in restaurants.
Instead of a greasy, fried appetizer, start with something light such as a salad. Another good starter for the meal would be a broth-based soup such as vegetable or bean soup. Starting your meal off with salad or soup is a great way to curb the hunger and eat less when your main course arrives at the table. Soup and a smaller salad together also makes a great main course.
Eat slowly and don't finish everything on your plate, particularly when portion sizes are large enough for several people. Instead, share a plate with your dinner companion, or ask for a to-go box to take home part of your food for another meal. Another option is to order from the kids menu, which has smaller portion sizes.
Watch your beverage selection. Regular soda is full of high fructose corn syrup, and the diet soda has artificial sweeteners. Instead of soda, have ice water with lemon or unsweetened ice tea. If you decide you are going to have an alcoholic beverage, avoid heavy, sweet drinks and opt for a light beer or a glass of wine with your meal. Remember that alcohol can stimulate your appetite and make you feel like eating more.
When it comes to your entree, keep a healthy balance on the plate. Opt for grilled or broiled fish, chicken, or lean beef, and go for plenty of vegetables on the side. Instead of French fries or onion rings, better choices are a baked potato, small salad, cottage cheese, and grilled or steamed vegetable such as broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, or green beans. You can also have a salad as your main course. Choose a salad with leafy green vegetables and a protein such as grilled chicken, boiled eggs, or a little chopped ham. Pay attention to descriptions in the menu that tell you how the food is prepared and avoid anything deep-fried, battered, or breaded. Go for steamed, baked, poached, broiled, roasted, or grilled food instead.
Another strategy is to go vegetarian, at least for that meal. No matter where you eat, you can usually find a couple of meatless entrees on the menu, such as a veggie burger, spaghetti with marinara sauce, or salad. Dishes where beans are the starring ingredient are great, as well as rice and vegetables.
If you want to finish off the meal with something sweet, avoid rich desserts such as cakes and pies. A better choice is a fruit plate or a yogurt parfait. If you really must have something decadent, order one serving and split it with everyone else at the table. A few bites will satisfy your sweet tooth and help you stay on track with healthy eating.