In our multitasking, on-the-go society, many of us end up eating out, or getting takeout, regularly. Social functions, special occasions, and business meetings are also getting back to being more in person again, often held in restaurants or around buffets.
Despite our best intentions, there is much potential for consuming more than we need when we go out, or get takeout. Remember, the primary goal of the food establishment is to satisfy the customer and keep them coming back. Big portions are served up to make us feel like we are getting our money’s worth. Extra fat calories are often added (usually in the form of oil or butter), which is impossible to know – unless we ask.
Here are some tips to survive restaurant and takeout eating!
1. Ask for nutritional information. Knowledge is power!! Check out the restaurant’s website, as many now post nutritional info online.
2. Eat a half portion. If you’re in a restaurant, ask for half of your meal to be served, and the other half to be wrapped up in a to-go container to take with you when you leave. It is hard to call it quits on a mouth watering meal half way through (this is our natural biology at work); asking them to wrap it up ahead of time prevents over indulgence. If you’re getting take out, easy peasy – put half in the fridge before you start. Look forward to leftovers tomorrow!
3. Go to portion-savvy restaurants! Choose restaurants that use smaller plates. There are also really neat approaches that I have seen, like delicious dessert served up in a perfectly portioned shot glass. This allows you to indulge in that must-have after dinner sweet, without taking in a huge amount of calories.
4. Pick healthy restaurants. This isn’t easy, as many establishments and menus will use terminology like ‘low fat’, ‘organic’, and so forth, that make us think it must be a healthy choice…. but often, it’s not. Raw food (or less prepared) choices are great, as what you see is what you get (ie no ‘hidden’ calories for the most part). Salads, sushi, or a thoughtfully chosen sandwich can be good choices. Even when we think we are making a healthy choice such as a grilled salmon filet or chicken breast, be aware – a load of butter or oil is often added while cooking to give it extra succulence.
5. Sauces on the side. Many foods come doused in sauces, often more than we wanted in the first place. Get your sauce or dressing on the side, dip your fork tip into the sauce to get the flavor, then take a bite of your delicious meal. You’ll find that you get the same flavor experience, and you get to control how much of the sauce or dressing you have.
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