On a typical day in 2012, it is estimated that the restaurant industry brings in approximately $1.7 billion in sales; that’s $630 billion for the year, up from just $42.8 back in 1970. With what we know about the current obesity epidemic, it isn’t hard to understand how this increase in sales has played a major part in the growing waistlines of many Americans.
So while eating out is clearly here to stay, it doesn’t have to mean letting your diet fall by the wayside. Instead, use these tips to choose healthy options and turn eating out into a healthy, guilt-free experience:
- Pay attention to detail: Know the different ways that your meal can be prepared, the ingredients involved, and what else comes with it. Look for options that are grilled, broiled, or baked instead of those that are pan-fried or deep fried. If you don’t know, or would prefer a substitution, don’t be afraid to ask the server!
- Don’t be seduced by the descriptions: Menus are made to entice. Words like “velvety” or “juicy” can prepare your taste buds before the meal even reaches the table. Don’t let adjectives and descriptions of meals deter you ordering something within your diet.
- Reduce snacking before your meal: Appetizers and other types of pre-entrée food are often loaded in fat and take away from the healthy meal you just ordered. Be sure to eat moderately before your main course. Can’t resist the temptation of the basket of bread or free nachos that have been placed in front of you? Ask to have it removed.
- Order a salad: Dining out is often used as an excuse to eat unhealthy, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead, order a salad as a healthy alternative. However, remember that toppings and fattening dressings can quickly pack on the calories and fat, so stay away from the cheese, eggs, croutons, and other fattening toppings. Ask for dressings lower in fat such as vinaigrettes or even a squeeze of lemon.
Dining out can be a diet’s worst nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep your diet in mind when ordering, eat in moderation, and never be afraid to ask for a doggie bag or leave food on your plate once you’re full. Restaurant portions are generally larger 2-3 times larger than you need in a meal, so it’s OK not to finish it! Have any other tips for dining out? Leave them in the comment box below and help someone maintain their while dining out.