Healthy Dining Out

Eating out with friends doesn’t have to sabotage your efforts to eat well. Healthy eating doesn’t stop on the weekends! Use these tips to keep your goals in sight and feel better after a weekend of some indulging.

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10 Tips for Dining Out Healthy

  1. Have a plan.¬†Strategically pick a restaurant that you know has some healthy options. Convince your friends to eat there too! Eat a small snack a couple hours before dining out so you aren’t ravenous when you show up to dinner.
  2. Check the menu before you leave home. It is much easier to stick to healthy options when you’ve already decided before arriving. This way it will be harder for a less healthy menu item to sway your decision.
  3. Skip fancy drinks.¬†Fancy drinks can be loaded with sugar. Stick to wine or a simple mixed cocktail that isn’t a sugar bomb. Remember, ordering water is healthy and helps save a bit of money!
  4. Ask how the food is prepared. You may not realize a menu item is fried or cooked in butter. So ask! The more you know, the easier it will be to make a decision.
  5. Customize your order. You can always make changes to what you order. Opt for a lighter salad dressing, a different cooking oil, or get something baked/steamed/grilled instead.
  6. Avoid ordering extras. Try not to add extra dressings, extra toppings, and anything “loaded.” This will save you calories and decrease the fat.
  7. Practice portion sizes. You don’t have to feel obligated to finish your meal. You can always take some home and eat it later. Eat until you are full and don’t over do it.
  8. Split menu items. Speaking of portion sizes – splitting food with a friend can give you that bite you are looking for without eating an entire portion of something you know you’ll regret later.
  9. Eat slowly. The slower you eat, the more you will be aware of when you are actually full. Not to mention you can focus on the conversation at the table instead of finishing your meal in record time.
  10. Skip dessert. I know it’s tough. But this will save you calories and money. Skip dessert and have a small piece of chocolate or fruit when you get home. You’ll thank yourself later.


How To: Build a Better Salad

The salad bar can be your best friend or a stealthy enemy. Knowing how to build a healthful salad is key to a nutritious meal. All those add ons may seem like a good idea – some croutons, bacon bits, dried fruit, cheese, and creamy dressing – but they pack on the calories, sugar, and fat. Even a salad loaded with vegetables can be missing a few key nutrients (i.e. protein, iron). My tips are fool proof. Build a nutritious salad at any salad bar or at home!

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Step 1: Choose your base. Mixed greens, spinach, romaine, and iceberg lettuce are the usual suspects. Always choose the darker greens as they have more potassium, iron, and calcium than the lighter options.

Step 2: Add all of the colors. More colors means more nutrients! Red vegetables (tomatoes, red bell peppers) have lycopene and anthocyanins. Orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes) have vitamin C and beta-carotene. Green vegetables (broccoli, cucumbers, green bell peppers) have folate, potassium, and calcium. White vegetables (mushrooms, onions, cauliflower) have potassium and magnesium.

Step 3: Protein please. This step is more versatile than you may think! Plant protein is perfectly acceptable on a salad, as long as you don’t forget to add it. You options may include chicken, shrimp, beans, quinoa, and eggs. P.S. Don’t be fooled by protein “salads” made with mayonnaise or other heavy ingredients. Skip those.

Step 4: Add a crunch. A small portion of croutons can be acceptable. If there are whole wheat croutons that’s even better. Seeds or crunchy chickpeas are a better option. The crunch will be the smallest addition to your salad.

Step 5: Dress it up. This step is crucial! Any salad can take a turn for the worse on the last step. Your best option is simply olive oil and your favorite vinegar or lemon. If you need a little more than that a mixed balsamic vinaigrette also works. Stay away from creamy calorie bombs and you’ll be in the clear.

What’s your favorite salad combo? Tell me below!