While the holiday season brings people together over food, it’s not always homemade. Dining out at restaurants may increase over the holidays with celebrations and travel. And while there may be healthy options on the menu, most restaurant meals (especially fast-food places) are often high in calories, fat and salt.
Here are some tips to help you choose wisely:
• Be Your Own Chef: If you don’t see a healthy option at a restaurant, ask for what you want. Some restaurants may be very accommodating to requests such as baking or grilling meats instead of frying or deep frying. Ask for a salad or vegetables as a side instead of French fries. Ask if there is an option for whole grain breads or buns. And ask for salad dressings or sauces on the side so you can choose the amount to use.
• Choose extras wisely: Items such as cheese, gravies, salad dressings and sauces can add extra calories, fat and salt to your meal. Items such as lower fat salad dressings, salsa and vegetables are healthy extras.
• Dessert Decisions: Think fresh and light when it comes to dessert. Fresh fruit, plain frozen yogurts and sorbet are healthier options. If you feel you really want that sweet dessert, order a small portion or share with family or friends.
• Drink Wisely: Water is the best choice to quench your thirst. Lower fat milks are a healthy choice. Iced Tea, juice and pop are higher in calories and sugar. Milkshakes are higher in calories, fat and sugar. Coffee and tea without cream, syrup and whipped cream are also good choices.
• Portion Size: Look for smaller portions when available. Restaurant portions tend to be much larger than what we would normally serve ourselves at home. Don’t be afraid to order something from the kids’ or seniors’ menu, or ask to have half your meal packaged to take home.
• Salad Savvy: Salads are usually a healthy choice, but not all components are healthy. Bacon bits, croutons, fried noodles, some salad dressings and tortillas are high in calories, fat and salt. Choose Lower fat salad dressings and use sparingly.
When eating out, plan ahead and look for the nutrition information for your meal or ask at the restaurant so you can make a wise decision. You may be surprised at how your favorite foods measure up.
But don’t forget the most important thing: healthy eating is a matter of balancing your food choices over time. So if you overindulge at one meal, make healthier choices at your next. After all, the holidays should be enjoyable…however that looks like to you.
As with everyone else this holiday season, I will be taking some time with family and friends. That means The Dish will be taking a much needed vacation for the next 2 weeks. Look for new topics in the New Year. And as always…
If you have any nutrition topics you would like me to write about or have a question you would like answered, email me at [email protected]. I would really like to hear from you!