Healthy Habits for Eating Out

The average American is eating out four to five times per week – and the choices we make in food selection have a pretty sizeable impact on our overall health.  With the busiest time of the year on the approach— producing hectic schedules and a severe lack of time— those numbers are due to increase.  While eating out isn’t always bad for you, people tend to make the wrong decisions when faced with a menu full of delicious —and unhealthy— meal options.

Many people didn’t have the luxury of going to a sit down restaurant and scouring the menu over the ages, in turn making it feel like a treat or reward when given the opportunity.  One approach to take while eating out is not to treat it as a special occasion.  Try to stay away from the large, calorie-packed meals and opt for baked, broiled, or grilled meats and seafood.  Stray from fried and creamy foods, and try to avoid using any butter!  You may even consider ordering an appetizer as your main course.  Going out isn’t cheap, so customize the menu in your favor.  Ask for veggies instead of fries, and get your dressing on the side if ordering a salad (start your meal with a salad packed with veggies, to help control hunger and feel satisfied sooner).

If you do choose a bigger menu item, ask for a half plate or split it with a friend.  Another trick is to grab a to-go box before you get your meal, and immediately put half of it away.  According to a recent survey by the American Institute for Cancer Research, 67% of Americans say they finish their entrees always or most of the time.  By either reducing the portion size or taking some to go, you are saving both calories and money!  Also, be sure to drink either water or un-sweet tea, and try out the fruit selection for dessert.