Eating Out and On the Road | Prospect Medical Systems

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Eating Out and On the Road

Group Of Friends Enjoying Evening Meal In Restaurant

According to a recent study, Americans spend more at bars and restaurants than they do on groceries in a year. And people around the world are eating out at least once a week, with many doing it 3-6 times a week. But as convenient (and fun!) as dining out can be, it can also be a hazard to your diet. Food prepared at restaurants and fast-food establishments can be full of hidden salts and fats and it can be easy to eat larger portions than you normally would at home.

Whether eating out is an occasional indulgence or a way of life, it is possible to make restaurant meals part of a healthy eating plan, with the help of some careful choices.

  • Watch the salt. Ask that your food be prepared without added salt, MSG or salt-containing ingredients, and never use the saltshaker. Limit condiments that are high in salt, such as mustard, ketchup, pickles and sauces.

  • Reduce unhealthy fats. Ask that your food be prepared with olive oil, rather than butter or other less healthy fats, or ask for it on the side. Request oil and vinegar rather than salad dressing, or request salad dressing on the side. Select foods prepared with healthier cooking techniques, such as steaming, grilling, broiling, baking, roasting, poaching or stir-frying.

  • Beware of appetizers. Many appetizers are loaded with salt and fat, and while they can be fun foods to order, can sabotage the health of your entire meal. If you must order an appetizer, opt for a salad or steamed veggies, and stay away from fried foods and bread.

  • Watch portion sizes. Don’t be tempted to eat your whole meal -- instead finish half your plate and ask for a carryout bag (as an added bonus, you’re actually getting two meals in one!) Or, split the entree with a friend at the table.

  • Have a plan for the buffet. Don’t be tempted to overfill your plate at a buffet just to get your money’s worth. Instead, survey the entire buffet spread and make a plan for what you will eat. Eat salad first, and then go back for more if you’re still hungry. Fill your plate with as many colorful fruits and vegetables as possible. And beware of unhealthy extras like cheese and creamy dressing that can quickly add fat to your plate.

  • Order beverages with few or no calories. Water or sparkling water with a twist of lemon is both healthy and filling --- and has no calories. Beware that alcoholic beverages may have more calories than you’d expect (and can also weaken your willpower).

  • Think twice before ordering dessert. Before you order dessert, finish your main dish and assess if you really have room. If you do order dessert, split in with a friend or take half home.