Americans eat out now more than ever. I should know — unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I’m on the go so much that I eat at restaurants or pick up meals most of the week.
So I’ve developed some simple ways to maximize the health benefits when dining out or ordering in.
1. Don’t Drink Your Calories! – Skip the alcohol and sugary sodas and opt for water with lemon or if you need the caffeine boost, grab an unsweet tea and add some Stevia.
2. Go (Dark) Green! – Ask for spring mix or spinach instead of iceberg or romaine lettuce on your salads. Most restaurants don’t mind the request and the darker green you eat, the more nutrition you gain.
3. “On the Side, Please!” – Ask for your salad dressing on the side. Often you need half the dressing they add and you get to enjoy the flavors on your own. Depending on my salad, I either pour my own dressing so I can control the amount or I dip my salad into the dressing as I go.
4. Pick Paleo! – Even if you’re not typically, a Paleo eater, learn to think like one when dining out. Scan the menu or ask the restaurant if they offer Paleo-type meals. Often you’ll have a meal that is better balanced and won’t overfill you with cheap calories.
5. Go Topless! – When eating a burger or other sandwich, take off one half of the bun. Usually one side contains the sauce or dressing, so you really don’t miss much and you save the extra, cheap calories.
6. Halfsies! — Split the meal with one or two other people. You eat less, but have the chance to experience more if you order one or a few smaller items.
7. Put a Lid on It! – To prevent overeating, when you’re finished with your meal and feel full, ask quickly for a take-home container. If there’s not enough for a second portion at home and you don’t want to be tempted to nibble, pour your water over the food to keep you from picking at it when it’s in front of you. If you’re too afraid to go for the water on your food, take the salt shaker and salt your meal. Like REALLY over salt it. You won’t touch it for the rest of the time at the table.