Only the truth is, you don’t have to deprive yourself of your favorite foods. In fact, enjoying one of America’s greatest pasttimes while maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be done! Take it from Jerlyn Jones MS, MPA, RDN, LD, also known as “The Lifestyle Dietitian,” who tells BlackDoctor.org, that you can have it all – with a little moderation and sensibility, of course!
“Eating out should be an enjoyable experience. A time to get together with family members and friends to eat a delicious and satisfying meal,” says Jones.
“If you’re trying to lose weight or managing your weight restaurants have made it much easier to choose healthier options by listing a number of calories next to the menu item or highlighting their lighter fare dishes with symbols,”
Here are six more restaurant tips for making healthy choices while eating out, courtesy of Jones:
- Pay attention to the descriptions on the menu. Avoid dishes labeled deep-fried, pan-fried, basted, batter-dipped, breaded, creamy, crispy, scalloped, Alfredo and au gratin because these dishes are high in calories, unhealthy fats, and sodium. Instead, choose more vegetables and leaner meats.
- Stay hydrated with water. Sweetened beverages like soda, juice, sweet tea, lemonade, and alcohol are filled with empty calories. If you don’t like drinking plain water order unsweetened tea or sparkling water with lemon.
- Undress your food. Be aware of high calorie and high-fat salad dressings, cheese, and sour cream. Choose olive oil or vinegar for salads, salsa on a baked potato, and mustard for sandwiches. Request these dressings and condiments on the side to control how much you put on your food.
- Special order. Many menu items can be prepared in different ways. Swap side dishes for vegetables without sauces. Switch fried foods to broiled, steamed, or grilled.
- Sharing is caring. Split an appetizer, entrée, or dessert with someone. Don’t deny yourself if you’re craving a particular menu item.
- Eat mindfully. Pay attention to what you eat and savor each bite. Chew your food more thoroughly and avoid rushing through the meal. Being mindful also means stopping before you are full. Mindful eating relaxes you, so you digest your food better and you feel more satisfied.
“Eating out is a treat for me and sometimes I will indulge by ordering a glass of wine or maybe a dessert only because I’m consistent with eating nutritious meals every day,” admitted Jones, touching on how she indulges from time-to-time.
Of the rules regarding a simple, guilt-free “cheat meal,” Jones said: “A “cheat meal” can prevent your weight loss goals if the entire meal is high in fat, sugar, and sodium. Choose just one meal as a “cheat meal” and eat healthier foods the rest of the day.”
You can follow Jerlyn Jones MS, MPA, RDN, LD on Twitter @jerlynnutrition for more nutrition tips!