Did you know that those who eat out regularly consume, on average, 15-50% more calories than those who eat in?
- Never go out to eat starving! You will not spoil your dinner if you have a small snack before eating out (e.g., 1 oz. cheese or 10 almonds).
- Don't order an appetizer; they contain enough calories to be a meal. You can order an appetizer as your meal but don't order it in addition to your main meal.
- Try not to snack on the bread. Ask the server not to bring it to the table.
- Always ask for the sauce or dressing on the side. The sauces or dressings are often very high in sugar and should be used minimally. Having sauces or dressing on the side allows you to control how much you use. Even better, order olive oil and vinegar INSTEAD of salad dressings and sauces. That way you KNOW there is no sugar added. Every restaurant has oil and vinegar available to take to your table easily, so don't feel like you're difficult by asking!
- Don't be afraid or embarrassed to make substitutions to your meal. Ask for double the steamed vegetables (with butter instead of sauces like teriyaki that contain tons of sugar) instead of the starch option (e.g., rice, potato, fries). Ignore comments from family or friends, ask them to be supportive of your efforts.
- Eyeball your portion. If your protein meal is larger than a deck of cards or the palm of your hand, simply cut it in half. Ask for a side plate and transfer the leftovers before you begin to eat. Just because the food is there does not mean you have to eat all of it. Ask them to wrap it up and have it for lunch the next day.
- If it is difficult for you to stop yourself from devouring all that is on your plate, simply ask your server to wrap half your meal before they even bring it to the table; this will eliminate any temptation and will not test your willpower!
- Read between the lines. Just because a meal is in the ‘healthy' or ‘low carb' section does not mean that it is balanced.
Menu Words To Steer Clear From
- Breaded. These items aren't just coated in breadcrumbs. They're often dipped in flour first; this screams super high processed carbohydrate and very unbalanced blood sugar.
- Au gratin. These dishes are topped with cheese or breadcrumbs mixed with butter. The serving size is HUGE and loaded with carbohydrates.
- Tempura. Sure, its fish and vegetables, but this Japanese specialty is typically batter-dipped and deep-fried (bad fats and bad carbs).
- Fried. This means cooking in hot fat (bad, this creates inflammation).
Descriptions That Scream ‘High Sugar”
- Fruit flavoured anything
- Most smoothies
- Iced coffee (unless you ask for no liquid sugar base. This is at McDonald's or Tim Hortons specifically. Starbucks doesn't add a liquid sugar base).
At the Restaurant
- Salads. Garden, spinach, Greek. Ask for dressing on the side, or ask for olive oil and vinegar. Dip your fork in the dressing before the lettuce and surprise yourself with the amount of taste only a little dressing offers! Add grilled chicken, fish, or steak. The more non-starchy vegetables, the better! Remember, darker lettuce and vegetables are the most nutritious. Stay away from croutons, taco salads, dried fruit, trail mix toppings, etc.
- Soup. Vegetable, chicken, etc. Avoid salty soups. Many soups contain MSG. Ask your server about the ingredients. Avoid chowders (heavy potato) and starchy vegetable soup as well as soups with pasta.
- Sandwiches, subs, and wraps. Vegetarian, chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, or egg are healthy options. Ask for only half the bread (open faced) and add extra vegetables into your sandwich, sub, or wrap. Even better, have the sub or wrap as a salad (all of the ingredients on a bed of mixed greens). Use cooked meats over cold cuts to avoid nitrates and chemical preservatives.
- Grilled or baked chicken, fish, tofu, or vegetables. Avoid fried/breaded foods. Add a salad and grilled, steamed or baked vegetables with lots of butter or olive oil. Say no to fries.
- Pizza. Ask for whole grain, thin crust.
- Pasta should be a last resort and not your most frequent restaurant meal. If it has to happen, have ⅓ of the pasta and double the amount of sauce. Choose a sauce with meat and fat. Bolognase is a good choice.
- Breakfast. Eggs, bacon, and avocado are perfect. High fat/protein smoothies. Avoid the carb-heavy continental breakfasts that do nothing to balance your blood sugar.
- Beverages. Ask about herbal tea and/or mineral water varieties even if they’re not on the menu; lots of restaurants carry items not listed. Hot chocolate and specialty coffees and cappuccinos should be avoided. No juice or pop ever.