7 Tips for Making Healthy Choices while Eating Out

Amy

Happy March! I feel like yesterday I was putting up my Christmas decorations, and now it is already March…where has the time gone! Throughout the year we find that we face different nutritional and health challenges. For example, during winter and the holidays, we tend to give ourselves a “free-bee” and enjoy all of the holiday cookies and traditional dishes. As we start the New Year in January, we use that as a time to re-evaluate our health and nutrition and set goals to make lifestyle changes. Now that we are in March, it is kind of a dead period- no big holidays coming up, and unfortunately, those new healthier changes we made back in January are maybe not sticking. Wherever you are at with your health this March, be sure to keep your health and wellness at the forefront.

Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? What better way to keep the health momentum going than with a month-long celebration of better nutrition! Coborn’s has many health and wellness resources to get you started on your health journey. Specifically, the other Coborn’s Supermarket Registered Dietitians and myself have created two 4-week menus that are both heart healthy as well as balanced for diabetics. We also have additional resources, such as healthy shopping lists, tip sheets, as well as references for proper portions sizes. Be sure to reach out to any of the Coborn’s Dietitians for additional complimentary services as well, included grocery store tours and personal consults.

Healthy tips to make when going out to eat

When it comes to healthy eating, I find that one of the most common challenges individuals face is when they are out to eat. I don’t want to accuse all restaurants of this, but unfortunately, many restaurants provide extra-large portions of food, which cannot only increase the calories, but also the sodium. Consuming large amounts of sodium can cause weight gain, as well put us at higher risk for heart disease. You may not always be able to see the nutrition information when you order at restaurants, but use these simple tips to make better choices when going out to eat:

  1. Watch your potion size – Try splitting an entrée with a friend, ordering an appetizer portion, or having the waiter/waitress box up half the meal before bringing it to the table. This way, you are less likely to over eat. This will save you calories, sodium, and prevent you from feeling over-stuffed.
  2. Look for food items with fruits and vegetables included– For many places, you can substitute fries with a cup of fruit or a small side salad. It may be an extra $1.00 or so, but you’re providing your body with better nutrition, and you’ll feel better knowing you made a healthy, but simple substitution.
  3. Salads – healthy or not? – The first thing we think of when it comes to a healthy meal is a salad. However, when we order salads at restaurants, they often come loaded with additional ingredients. It’s great if it’s topped with fruits, vegetables, beans, or whole grains! Where they trick you is the salad dressing. Always ask for your salad dressing on the side and dip a fork full of your salad into the dressing. You’ll be surprised at how much less dressing you use. Dressing is often high in sodium, sugar, and fat. Even if it’s fat free, they often replace the fat with more sodium or sugar. Oil and vinegar is a great option.
  4. Smoked, Cured, or Fried Foods often have higher amounts of sodium. Most meat purchased at restaurants are seasoned or marinated in one way or another. Again, we may not be able to control how much sodium or seasoning we have on the cut of meat, but we can watch our portion size. If you really enjoy the flavor of smoked, cured, or fried foods limit the amount that you choose them when going out to eat. (Everything in moderation!) Don’t be afraid to ask if you can get cuts of meat and seafood grilled, baked, or even steamed.
  5. Hide the salt shaker– Trust me, the last thing you need added to your food is salt, especially when it is already seasoned.
  6. Try something new– Think outside the box and hop out of your comfort zone to explore new items on the menu.
  7. Make the better beverage choice– for many individuals they use the opportunity to order soda or pop when they eat out. Do your best to order water, and add a lemon slice for a change of flavor. Water is a lot cheaper than soda too!

Take a few minutes to realize why you go out to eat? Is it a special occasion? Convenience? Maybe you don’t feel comfortable cooking for yourself? Whatever your reasoning may be, limit yourself to eating out no more than twice a week if possible. Try planning your meals and snacks ahead of time, so that you don’t find yourself sneaking into the drive through on your route.

It’s all up to you to make small improvements in your diet. One or two small changes can make a big difference! If you would like any meal planning assistance, reach out to us. Your Coborn’s Supermarket Registered Dietitians are here to provide complimentary resources for you.

Happy National Nutrition month!

Amy Peick, RD, LD
Coborn’s Supermarket Registered Dietitian

 

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