Everyone loves to go out to eat! Food has always been the center of attention and a way to celebrate an occasion. Food is a necessity. Let me say this again: healthy food is a necessity. Good food requires a lot of planning and consideration, especially when it is eaten outside of the home. There are many restaurants that provide good food, but only a few of them offer healthy food. How can you distinguish those? In her book, The Restaurant Companion, Hope S. Warshaw offers us 6 skills needed for healthier dining out.
Restaurants are also a great place to relax. The style, music and atmosphere are crucial in accomplishing this. Although going to a new place can be exciting, it can also be disappointing. It's a good idea to call the restaurant and find out if that's specifically what you are looking for. Many newspapers have weekly columns describing certain restaurants in your area. If you have high nutritional goals, it is another good point to give them a call. Does the restaurant contain food choices you want? Can you special order? Remember, restaurants always look for ways to please their customers and to see them again the next time.
Don't go hungry to a restaurant! It is hard to make appropriate decisions on an empty stomach and when your resistance to "danger" foods is low. Do not starve yourself during the day, thinking you will catch up by overeating or eating the wrong foods later at the restaurant. More times than not, you will eat foods you should avoid and more of them than you need.
When making a menu selection, concentrate first on the main dish. This will affect what you will order for appetizers and deserts. For example, there are plates that contain vegetables, there are also others that have none. In this case, ordering a salad as an additional dish may contribute to an adequate and well-balanced dinner. Or the choice of your entree will decide whether or not to order a soup or an appetizer.
Keep in mind the portion size. Sometimes, your eyes can be bigger than your stomach. What that means is - you think you want to eat more than there is actually a space to fit it into. A good idea would be to order your entree with an appetizer and ask the waiter/waitress to come back later for the desert choice.
No matter what size you are, choosing menu items to minimize fat intake is always a good skill to have. Fat is used to enhance taste and flavor. It does that, usually along with adding significant calories, but without adding any food volume. A medium baked potato, for example, contains 100 calories. If you add to that 1 teaspoon of stick margarine and 2 tablespoons of sour cream - that's another 100 calories. Margarine and sour cream, in this case did not increase the amount of food volume, but doubled the calories. It is not saying you should eat the potato plain. Try to find less fat containing products that could go as substitutes. A greater danger of fats, however, is their contribution to saturated fat and cholesterol, depending on the type of fats.
Don't be afraid to have choices fit your needs. Make special requests! As long as they are reasonable and are asked in a friendly yet assertive manner, you will most likely get what you want.
More times than not, you get more food than you actually need. This usually results in either overloaded stomach or left-overs. That's where portion control could help. One effective strategy would be to ask for a leftovers container or a "doggie bag" at the time your meal is being served. You can portion out immediately what you can't eat and what you will eat in the restaurant and take home. The theory "out of sight, out of mind" is quite helpful in practicing portion control.
Sharing menu selections is another good strategy. When eating with a friend or with a family, try to ration food between all the members. In some restaurants it is routine for people to share entrees. These include Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Siam foods-- as well as Italian pizza. Also, don't forget to make sure that the food you will be ordering is agreeable with other partners.
If you're unsure of the size, don't be afraid to ask. If you think the portion is way to big, again, make special requests, if possible.
Try to eat slowly and enjoy the food you have selected. Keep in mind that it takes approximately 20 minutes for your mind to get the message that your stomach is fed. That means if you eat too fast, when 20 minute zone hits, you will feel overloaded. If you eat slower and less, but enough, the stomach will also get the message only in 20 minutes and you will save lots of calories.
Putting utensils down frequently will help slowing down the pace. Or take frequent, but smaller sips of your beverage. This achieves two purposes -- slows down the pace and fills you up with fluids. It is also a good idea to drink a lot of water, tea or juices before you start eating to fill you up with healthy items.
We have been taught from an early age to leave nothing on the plate. This, in turn has created a concept that full means "clean plate." When we go out to the restaurants, we try to finish everything that is on the plate, which often times leaves us too full. There is a way to change this, however. When you are pleasantly full, leave a few bites on your plate. This helps to break down the behavior of associating fullness and the end of a meal with a sparkling clean plate. It will also force you into listening to your stomach rather than letting the clean plate make the determination. Or simply signal to your waiter to take the plate away, which will assist you in not overeating, simply because the plate is not in front of you.
Getting hungry? Check out the The Appetite Network .It has descriptions of various restaurants throughout continental United States. Time to put ideas in practice!
Are you thinking of going fast-food for lunch? Our guide will walk you through the healthy ways of eating at fast-food places.