If you go out to eat a lot it’s very important to develop habits that keep you eating healthy. These simple tips are what I recommend for everyone.
The first thing the server is going to ask is what you’d like to drink. This part is easy. The answer is water and if you want flavor ask for a slice of lemon. Always water! The never-ending glass of soda sounds like a great value but you’re just getting a massive amount of sugar calories, a fatty body, and cavities. Have you ever been to a restaurant where the water has a terrible chlorine flavor? I’ve often wondered why every restaurant doesn’t have a filtration system for their drinking water. There are restaurants I won’t go to just because the water tastes so bad. Restaurants…get a filter!
Ahh the menu... So many choices! Let’s start with the obvious. The never ending pasta bowl or deep fried popcorn shrimp platter are a bad idea. Avoid the dishes that are deep-fried or contain a lot of grains/pastas. Pick a salad off of the menu. Ask them to hold the pile of cheese and add an extra hard boiled egg or two. It’s hard to tell what their salad dressings are made from but I’d wager most are heavy in corn syrup and canola oil. If the worst part of your meal is a couple tablespoons of salad dressing you are still eating better than 90% of Canadians. If you are super serious ask for olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a dressing.
I always like to order the best sounding meat. If I’m on the coast it’s fish and when in the mid-west it’s red meat. The sides are where you have to make the right choices. Would you like french fries or mashed potatoes with your steak? Ask for a side of veggies. (corn and wheat are not vegetables) Ask for a big side of veggies not the veggie garnish restaurants often give. A baked potato is a much better option than french fries as long as it’s not swimming in sour cream and cheese. and the size of a football.
If the meal comes with a side of Texas Toast or any other grain product ask for a bowl of fruit instead. This is especially important when out for breakfast. They always ask what type of toast or english muffin I want with my meat and vegetable omelet. I always ask for fruit instead and they always have it.
Sometimes a big juicy burger sounds good. I agree and when I order it I tell them to hold the big bun. A burger without a bun is just a country fried steak in my book. Hold the bun and ask for extra onions or extra of whatever your favorite garnish is. It’s not a big deal eating a burger with a fork instead of hands.
Stay out of the fast food joints as much as possible. If you do find yourself there order meals with the most meat and vegetables and least amount of breads, grains, or deep fried products. Again, lay off the super-sized soda and ask for water.
Don’t worry about counting calories. 600 calories from a lean piece of meat is not the same as 600 calories from a plate of pasta or bread sticks. Choose healthy foods and eat until full, not until you have to undo your pants. And on THAT note, don’t wear your super stretchy/thanksgiving dinner sweats. Just don’t.
It’s okay to live it up once in a while. If you don’t make it a habit order whatever you want, have a couple dozen glasses of wine, order the biggest dessert on the menu. Okay maybe the wine advice goes a bit far but a few bad meals once in a long while isn’t a big deal. The problem is when it is consistent soda, french fries, pasta, desserts, etc… These cheat meals will be less frequent once you are on a healthy diet.
When I have a greasy, huge meal I get terrible “gut rot” and usually have an emergency bathroom run before I leave the restaurant. (I know, TMI) When you actually eat clean consistently, you will see how bad low quality food makes you feel. The cheat meals get very far and few between because the pain post meal isn’t worth the pleasure of eating the meal.
The rules really are very simple. Broiled or baked meat, vegetables, fruit and drink water. I hope this helps you make better choices when you are out on the town :)