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Dine in or take out: Order well at any restaurant

Holiday to-do list have you on the go?  From celebrating with family, to dashing around town for those last minute gifts, the holiday season can interfere with your plans for healthy, home-cooked meals. Below are tips to help you choose healthier options when eating out or ordering takeout.

  • The more vegetables the better. Many restaurants now have vegetarian or vegan options. You may want to try one of these options or at least choose an entrée that has lots of vegetables. Vegetables contain fiber and nutrients to help you stay full longer without going overboard on calories.
  • Think (or ask) about ingredients used. Restaurants often add extra salt, sugars, oils, flavorings, butter, and cream to make dishes more appealing. Don’t be afraid to ask what is in your food and to then request for something to be changed. Order the way you want it, and don’t be afraid to ask what is in your food and to then request for something to be changed. For example, ask to substitute olive oil for butter or for light or no salt.
  • Divide the meal in half and save half for a later meal. Restaurant portions tend to be larger than a meal served at home. Ask for a to-go box with your meal, and portion out your leftovers before you begin eating.
  • Choose sides carefully. Ask for a side salad or side item with vegetables or fruit.
  • Make water your beverage of choice! This will lower your calorie intake and save you money.
  • Asian
    • Order vegetables with a grilled protein or choose a vegetarian meal.
    • Choose brown rice instead of white rice.
    • Get sushi made with rolled cucumbers instead of rice.
    • Choose broth-based soups and dishes.
    • Ask for sauces on the side.
    • Steer clear of sugar-based sauces (like duck or plum).
  • Mexican
    • Try a burrito bowl or salad. Order it heavy with vegetables and lighter on the meats and rice.
    • Go minimal on toppings (like sour cream and cheese), and add fiber-rich options like tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and salsa.
    • Opt for corn tortillas rather than flour tortillas.
    • Be mindful of the chips and salsa. Ask for them to be taken away or only take a small amount with your meal. Avoid filling up on them before your meal.
    • Cut burritos in half and save half for lunch the next day.
  • Italian
    • Ask for whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta.
    • Look for these words on the menu: grilled, steamed, lightly sautéed, baked, roasted, seared or broiled.
    • If you are choosing a pasta dish, choose one that incorporates a lean protein, and opt for marinara or a simple sauce made of olive oil, lemon, and garlic. Skip the Alfredo or cream sauces.
    • Be mindful of bread or breadstick appetizers. Choose to not eat them, or eat only one small piece with your meal.
  • Indian
    • Try kebabs made with prawns, grilled chicken, tandoori salmon, or vegetables.
    • Look for dal, such as dal Bukhara, made with lentils and beans and loaded with fiber and protein.
    • Order steamed vegetables to stir into curries. This adds volume and reduces the calories from fats like ghee and cream.

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