Stay Healthy and Support Local Business!
If you are like me, you probably miss going to a restaurant and enjoying a meal you didn’t have to cook. Many people are trying to help support their local restaurants by ordering out, but fear they are doing a disservice to their health. Luckily, there are ways we can continue to stay healthy while enjoying restaurant food and supporting local businesses. Check out the tips below for enjoying and eating well while supporting your favorite local restaurant!
Tip 1: Watch for key words
Many of the descriptions of our meals have hints about how healthy it may be and can be found on the online menu. Words like “crispy, crunchy, fried or smothered” are hints the meal has extra fat and may be caked with highly processed carbohydrates. Words like “grilled, steamed, blackened or roasted” mean the food was prepared using less fat and can be healthier options.
Tip 2: Split the meal
Before you start gobbling up your meal, pack up half of the meal for the next day. Restaurant portions can be very large and we often eat too much at a time. Since you are at home, grabbing a storage container and putting it out-of-sight upon the food’s arrival helps you manage how much you eat. Saving some of your meal for later also means you get to enjoy the food a second time-hooray for (planned) leftovers!
Tip 3: Pick your splurges
If you are dying to have the greasy burger with all the toppings, go for it. Pick the sides and drinks (like steamed vegetables, fruit cups, and sparkling water) to help balance your meal. You can also skip the appetizer, dessert or sides all together so you can focus on and enjoy what you really want. And make sure you eat slowly and mindfully to enjoy each bite!
Tip 4: Ask to customize
Unless otherwise specified, most restaurants are able to make easy substitutions in their dishes. Healthy substitutions could be about swapping a side, preparing the protein differently, or leaving off an ingredient. This can also help reduce food waste if there are elements of the meal you won’t eat. You will never know if you never ask!
Tip 5: Order a kids’ meal
Ever notice that kids’ meals come with a healthy side and a drink? Kids’ meals can be a great way to control portions and get a more balanced meal. It is your call to take or leave the toy if one is offered!
As always, remember that healthy eating does not need to be an all-or-nothing deal. Use the guidelines above to make healthy restaurant choices but don’t beat yourself up if you splurge a little on your favorite treat.
Looking for more ideas for making healthy choices without always cooking at home? Schedule some time with Jeanette to talk about reaching your wellness goals! Need some specific advice on restaurants? Find a NIM Dietitian near you!