What To Eat When Eating Out?

According to the Huffington Post 1 out of 6 diners eating out in restaurants do not pay attention to the nutritional information posted on the menus.  Hunger pangs distract us from choosing our foods carefully. And as most of us know eating the wrong foods can make us feel tired and groggy afterwards. Most of the time we are in a hurry when we eat out, or sometimes we happen to be in a restaurant that we’d rather not eat in just because we’re with a friend or a client.

Choosing Healthier Options No Matter Where You Happen to Be

Here’s a guide for eating out in different types of restaurants. We’ll go over the best options for nutrition, healthier food shortcuts, and cutting back on calories while eating out. Plus, healthy gluten-free snacks to bring with you when you are away from home.

My first stop takes us to the typical burger joint. The aroma of burgers grilling and french fries being deep fried is hard to resist but eating a burger and fries is some of the worse foods you can put into your body. Unfortunately you’re stuck in this burger place for lunch so here is what you need to do. Resist the temptation and order something that is not going to give you empty calories.  Did you know a typical hamburger with fries and a coke has a whopping 780 calories and ZERO nutritional value?

What to eat at a burger joint

  • Grilled (not deep fired) chicken salad with oil and vinegar
  • Grilled fish with tomato slices
  • Veggie patty (skip the bun and see what you can supplement for the wheat bun at the end of this article)

What not to eat at a burger joint

  • Say no to the condiments
  • Drink water instead of soda
  • leave out the fries
  • Omit the bun
  • Do not eat deep fried foods of any kind
  • Skip the shake

Regardless of the restaurant, look to substitute the starchy side (potato) with a side of vegetables.  A typical baked potato has the same sugar effect on your body as a Snickers bar, believe it or not.

The next stop takes us straight to a Chinese restaurant. Most of us think fattening when it comes to eating in a Chinese restaurant but actually, if you choose your foods wisely, Chinese stir-fries can be your healthiest choice as far as eating out is concerned. This is assuming, of course, there is no monosodium glutamate (MSG) added to the food.

What to eat in a Chinese Restaurant

  • Brown rice or brown rice noodles
  • Stir fried chicken or fish with vegetables
  • Sautéed vegetables with brown rice or brown rice noodles

What not to eat in a Chinese Restaurant

  • All of the deep fried food, which includes spring rolls
  • White rice
  • Stir fries in sweet and sour sauces

Next up is the Mexican Restaurant. Does eating Mexican food always mean fattening and unhealthy? No. Let’s take a look at what gluten free recommendations are when eating out Mexican style. Good choices are grilled chicken or beef fajitas with corn flour tortillas or corn flour chip nachos with black beans or refried pinto beans.

What to eat in a Mexican Restaurant

  • Pinto beans or black beans
  • Corn chips or corn tortillas
  • Grilled chicken, fish or beef
  • Sautéed vegetables
  • Guacamole and or avocado slices
  • Brown rice
  • Salsa

What not to eat in a Mexican Restaurant

  • White flour tortilla, tostadas and chips
  • Greasy meat dishes
  • White rice
  • Meat based gravies and or sauces

Next: Salad buffet – When most people think salad they think healthy choice, right? But sometimes, depending on what we put on our bed of lettuce it can be anything but healthy. Some salads are just as unhealthy as a fast food burger. So what do I suggest we eat and avoid at the salad bar?

What to eat at a salad bar

  • Green leafy lettuce (the greener the better)
  • Raw vegetables of any kind
  • Boiled egg
  • Raw sunflower seeds or other raw nuts
  • Grilled chicken or fish
  • Cheese (not too much)
  • Oil (extra virgin olive oil) and vinegar (don’t feel bad about over indulging on the extra virgin olive oil)

What to avoid at the salad bar

  • Salami type sliced meats
  • Deep fried chicken and other meats
  • Salted, roasted sunflower seeds and other nuts
  • Croutons
  • Dressings made with sugar and mayo (this is where a lot of the calories are)
  • Bacon bits

 

Packing Your Own Foods to Eat

Now that we know some of the healthier options when eating out, let’s think about what we can bring with us to supplement some of those not so healthy food choices with healthier foods and snacks. I recommend bringing these foods and healthy snacks from home. You can even bring them with you when you eat out.

Olive oil and vinegar dressing: Some restaurants do not have olive oil and vinegar dressing. It’s easy to make your own right at home and put in a small herb jar and carry along with you.  Surprisingly oil and vinegar is not just good on salads, it also makes those boring veggie sandwiches come alive and gives burgers a much-needed kick. 

Mary’s Gone Crackers: Mary’s Gone Crackers are probably one of the best and easiest snacks to bring from home with you. Instead of eating the wheat buns, or white rice you can eat three or four of these crackers with your salad, or burger, or veggie or chicken stir-fry and leave the table feeling satisfied and you will still have available energy for the rest of the day.

Hummus spread: Hummus on Mary’s Gone Crackers is an excellent snack for in between meals when you don’t have time to eat out or don’t want to eat out. The different varieties you can choose from with these crackers are amazing. Hummus is full of protein and is a good energy snack.

Dried Fruit and nut mix: When creating a fruit and nut mix be sure to use raw nuts of different varieties, such as almonds, walnuts, pecans as well as dried raisins, dates, figs, and prunes that do not have added sugar. It’s healthier to prepare your own fruit and nut mix. Most mixes you buy from the store have lot of added ingredients that are unhealthy.

Raw Veggies: Snacking on fresh veggies is an excellent alternative to chips and fries. If you are eating out raw veggies as a side dish to grilled chicken or fish, or with a veggie or patty compliments the meal really well. Vegetables you can prepare and bring right along with you are carrot and celery sticks, broccoli or cauliflower, cucumber slices, and even a whole tomato with a paring knife. Slice it up right before you are going to use it. Drizzle some of your home prepared olive oil and vinegar and you are set to go.

Are you one of the 1 out of the 6 restaurant diners that pays attention to the nutritional information on the menu? Do you make healthier choices about what you eat when you eat out? If not, I hope these easy health food tips for eating out will help you make your next dining experience a healthier one. Remember: if you eat out frequently it is imperative to your health to choose what you are going to eat wisely.

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