Eating Healthy While Eating Out

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There are many days that I feel like all I want to do when I get home is order a pizza or reach for a frozen entree. Since my days are consumed with work, school and raising a family, eating out (better said being invited to eat out) is a luxury, and a dreaded one at that because of the kids. But, in an attempt to be slightly less anti-social than I have been since having kids and the only one in my circle of friends nearby with them, we accepted with the conditions that it was kid-friendly.

For 2017, my family and I wanted to eat healthier, and when eating out its sort of hard to do. I mean, you can always go with a salad, and while it is a healthy option, I feel like there is something wrong with ordering just a salad. Plus, it’s not often that we go out to eat as a family, let alone with others who are willingly putting themselves in the same room with a threenager and an 8 month old.

Here are a few tips on how I try and eat healthier when we eat out.

  • Portion control- While this seems like a no brainer, there is no denying that you get huge portions at restaurants and some even like to offer endless entrees or appetizers.  In particular, we went to a Mexican food restaurant, and they have endless chips and salsa, and while you are waiting for your entree, you consume what seems like half your weight in them. STOP! Eat a few, but not a full meals worth. This is a filler with no positive calorie count. On a side note, watch how much your kids eat too! Kids meal portion sizes are almost as big as an adult plate.
  • Be mindful of what you order to drink- I am not going to say not to enjoy your meal out, but be aware of what you are ordering. We tend to drink water 80% of the time (the other 20% is fueled by coffee), so when we go out we may order a soda (what these Michiganders call pop), or and adult beverage, usually we settle for an Arnold Palmer. Beware of the complementary refills on fountain drinks. Not only do you fill up on this pre-meal, they are also empty calories.
  • Beef, Chicken, Pork or Fish??- Each one of these proteins has it pros and cons. While we lean towards chicken, any of these options are fine. Keep in mind that you may want to stay away from any of these if they are battered and fried, deep-fried or come with an obscene amount of sauce.
  • Side options- This is where you can take healthy by the reigns and own that eating out experience without feeling guilty. Go for a steamed vegetable, side salad or opt for brown rice or corn tortillas vs flour. Try not to get two carbs, or if you have the option, go sweet potato fries vs. regular.

If you are interested in other tips, here are a few sites that you can go to get more ideas and/or help with this if you want to indulge without the bulge.

7 tips from eatright.org
eating out life hacks
WedMD takes on eating out

Image credit to kidshealth.org
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