Here’s what you might not wish to hear: most restaurants don’t serve healthy food. They’re often loaded with processed crap and enough calories that could be spread over 3-4 balanced meals.
And here’s the good news: it’s very possible to eat both healthy and delicious restaurant meals with the following Health-e guide:
Tip 1. The more expensive the restaurant you decide on, the less you will get to eat, which is better for you! Those big blue-plate “specials” from American or Italian restaurants typically serve up double or more protein and carbs than you’ll need. So pay more to eat less.
Tip 2: Your plate should be comprised of 50 percent vegetables, 25 percent protein and 25 percent grains.
Tip 3: Eat ethnic; when it comes to Japanese, Thai, Greek, Indian and yes, Indonesian (if you stay clear of the deep fried “goreng” dishes) cuisines are far better for you than Mexican, Chinese or Italian.
Tip 4: While Japanese food is indeed a healthier option ask your server for low-sodium soy sauce to dip your sushi rolls in.
Tip 5: Ask for it your way. Dining out is no time to be a meek consumer; be assertive by asking for changes on the menu. Example: if an item is fried, ask for it grilled. If it comes with French fries, ask for a side of veggies instead.
Tip 6: Ask for a smaller portion of the meat and a larger portion of the salad; for salad instead of coleslaw; baked potato instead of fries.
Tip 7: Scan the menu for red flag words like “pan-fried,” “crispy,” “dipped,” “scalloped,” “gratin,” and “alfredo.” Those words signal hidden fat and sodium.
Tip 8: Ask to “triple the vegetables” because restaurants serve small portions of veg. They’ll never normally charge extra.
Tip 9: If you’re craving meat pick leaner cuts like a flank steak or filet mignon over a hulking rib-eye. Or opt for chicken breast-based dishes and ask for skinless breasts, eight grams less fat.
Tip 10: Start your meal with a tomato or stock-based soup instead of a calorie-rich cream-based one.
Tip 11: Order diet dressings and ask for it on the side and apply no more than two tablespoons.
Tip 12: Ask if there’s cream or butter ingredients, and if they believe so, ask them to check with the chef because that can make a difference in hundreds of calories.
Tip 13: Double order appetizers if there is a decent selection of seafood- and vegetable-based appetizers and consider skipping the entrée.
Tip 14: Order a salad before ordering anything else on the menu. Dieticians discovered those who start with a salad ate fewer calories overall than those who didn’t.
Tip 15: Be careful of accompanying sauces, which are common with appetizers such as tartar sauce. Stick with a squeeze or three of lemon only.
Tip 16: Turn away the breadbasket. If you must have something to eat while you wait for your order, ask for a plate of raw vegetables or dried bread crisps.
Tip 17: Skip the fancy drinks. Water, green tea (cold or hot) or unsweetened juice along with sipping water throughout your meal is the way to go.
Tip 18: Dress up! Make it an occasion, why not. If you view eating out as something special rather than just finding a meal, you won’t eat out as often.
Tip 19: Plan your restaurant dinners and look at their website menu before you leave to plan the healthiest option, that way you won’t make a bad, spontaneous decision.
Tip 20: Skip dessert. Period.
Source: Readers Digest; NYTimes; Best Health Canada; buzzfeed