Cooking at home is great, but occasionally it is nice to go out to eat with friends and loved ones. Although there is a bill at the end of the meal, enjoying a cooked meal created by someone else is an experience enjoyed by many. The downside to restaurant eating is having no clue what is going into your body, especially when you are conscious of packing on the calories.
Yes, it is true when cooking and preparing your own meals you save money, you are more conscious about the ingredients and nutrients your body is taking in, and it is easier to stay on track with your health goals.
Pros and cons aside, the truth is some days we cannot be bothered to turn on the stove and we do get bored of eating the same meals.
Here are some key strategies when you just don’t feel like cutting up your asparagus for yet another Friday night dinner, but making sure you do not stray from your health journey.
- Preparation: If you know ahead of time that you’re going to a restaurant, cut back on calories during other meals in day.
- Knowledge: Getting to know menu terms and cooking basics makes ordering easier, especially if you need to control calories. Look for foods that are steamed, broiled, baked or grilled. Reduce or avoid fried and sautéed items or foods described as “crispy,” “rich”, or “au gratin.”
- Ordering: Substituting and controlling portions are also key helpers to staying on track. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends you “Balance your meal by including healthier selections from all the different food groups such as lean meats, low- or non-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Look for freshly made entrée salads that give you balance in a bowl“. Make sure to read the ingredients and request dressing on the side.
- If salads are not on your radar today, spend time looking at the menu. You want to go over the menu to see what ALL of your options are. A tip is to select your main meal from the starters and sides section. (Remember to look at the cooking method and ingredients of these items too!).
- Ask your waiter for substitutions and to put sauces on the side. Waiters are usually flexible when it comes to your dietary needs and they want you to have the best dining experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions!
- Eating: Its is not a race. Savor all the good flavors from your meal! Fun fact: it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you are no longer hungry. Fast eaters often are over eaters, while slow eaters tend to eat less and are still satisfied.
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