Eating Out

Eating out has become entirely too frequent. What used to be treated as a special occasion is now a weekly, biweekly or even daily event. The average American eats out at least 4 times per week. Meals eaten out are often higher in fat (especially saturated fat), calories, cholesterol, sodium and very rarely include fruits, vegetables, whole grains or lean proteins. Not to mention the serving sizes! I understand that many of you travel frequently or are strapped for time. However, eating healthy doesn’t just happen, you have to plan for it. Make sure to think through food choices before you make them and pack non-perishable goods such as whole grain crackers, granola bars, dry cereal, nuts, fruits, vegetables and trail mix.

When eating out, here are a few guidelines to follow.

1. Plan ahead but don’t skip meals. You can eat smaller, lighter meals to “save up” for a larger meal out but make sure not to entirely skip a meal. It will leave you ravenous for food and you will overeat.
2. Share your meal. This is a great way to save money…and calories!
3. Take half or more of your meal home, even ask for it to be packed up before you begin eating. If it isn’t right in front of you, you will be less likely to eat it.
4. Stop eating when you feel full. Remember the hunger scale and ALWAYS keep it in mind. It is so easy to keep eating when large portions are in front of you. You must make a conscious effort as a mindful eater to stop eating when you start to feel full.
5. Skip beverages, appetizers and desserts. Again, you save money and calories. Those extras can really add up.
6. Order appetizers as entrees since they are usually smaller portions. However, beware that most appetizers are often fried.
7. Check the internet site of the restaurant for nutritional facts before you go. Many restaurants are offering this information so take advantage of it.
8. Ask for salad dressings and condiments on the side and use a minimal amount. Dipping your fork in the dressing first before taking the salad is a great technique.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions or omissions for certain high calorie and high fat items. For example, fruit instead of fries or a baked potato instead of mashed potatoes.
10. Go for items that are steamed, grilled, poached, broiled, vegetarian or labeled light or lean. Look through the menu for items marked as “healthy” or ask your waiter how meals are prepared.
11. Avoid items that are fried, breaded, in cream or cheese sauces and meat with skin and bones. At times, the way a food is prepared has more impact on calorie and fat contact than the food option itself.
12. Remember your portion sizes as discussed in class as well as the eating out experience!
13. Eat slowly and enjoy your meal. Eating out should be satisfying and fun so don’t rush through it.
14. Beware of all-you-can eat buffets and don’t feel like you have to get your “money’s worth”. These can be problematic for some and others may like the freedom it gives them in taking the correct portions.

Here is a list of good options for chain restaurants or fast food establishments. Specific menu items have the calories in parenthesis. Also, click here for a good article that gives healthy food options for specific types of cuisine.

• Applebee’s Weight Watchers Menu
• Chili’s Guiltless Grill Menu
• Ruby Tuesday’s Smart Eating Menu and excellent salad bar
• Sizzler’s salad bar
• Red Lobster’s “Lighthouse” Menu
• Subway 6 grams of fat or less salads and sandwiches (watch condiments!). They also offer side dish options of baked chips, raisins, apples and yogurt.
• Quizno’s light menu (no nutritional facts available)
• Arby’s

Martha’s Vineyard Salad with 1/3 package of dressing (340)
Santa Fe Salad with Grilled Chicken and 1/3 package of dressing (400)
• McDonald’s
Grilled Chicken Asian Salad with low fat dressing (390)
Fruit and Yogurt Parfait (160)
2 Scrambled Eggs (170)
Apple Dippers with low fat caramel sauce (100)
Fruit and Walnut Salad (210)
• Wendy’s
Mandarin Chicken Salad (420 with 1/3 package dressing)
Small Chili (220)
Sour Cream and Chive Baked Potato (320)
Plain baked potato (270)
Mandarin Orange Cup (80)
Low fat Strawberry Yogurt (140) – with granola (250)
Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD