You Can Still Eat Healthy When You’re Out

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Healthy EatingThis week I’ve gotten a few healthy eating tweet questions sent to me asking for advice. First off, I love that people are asking questions! Learning and figuring out what to do is half the battle. Secondly, I love that they are asking me! Me of all people giving advice on healthy eating.

That really makes me smile because just a couple years ago I had no clue. I thought I was eating healthy, but looking at it now I just shake my head and then bonk myself in the head with my hand for being so clueless. I was the Lean Cuisine Queen at home and work.

When I ate out, I ordered a salad and that was a good choice, right? I later found out my favorite salad was just over 1000 calories and loaded with salt. Crazy scary. So if I can learn and implement this healthy eating stuff, anyone can if armed with a little knowledge.

I’ll start with eating out since that’s harder to control than making your own meals. The basic rules and tips are:

  • Look for as few ingredients as possible with words you can easily pronounce – chicken, broccoli, tomato, steak. Also look for words like grilled and steamed, not fried or sautéed.
  • Enjoy your food and eat slowly  in this order – veggies, meat, carbs. If you can get double veggie sides instead of veggie and potato/rice/pasta. Most places let you.
  • Avoid dressings and sauces. If you really really want them, then get them on the side so you control the amount used. You’ll be shocked when you see how much they really use.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. If you don’t see it on the menu, ask if they can make it. I’ve yet to find a restaurant that can’t make a chicken breast and only one that had no steamed veggies for the side. (Beware of BBQ places.)
  • De-construct if you need to. I’ve ordered a salad and told them to not add what I don’t want. Hold the crispy chinese noodles, the cheese, the croutons, chicken and dressing on the side, etc.
  • If all else fails, ask if you can order off the kid’s menu. Lots of restaurants now have grilled chicken with healthy sides like carrots and broccoli on the kid’s menu. They usually use less salt and fat when cooking for kids. No one has told me no despite my obvious non-kid age.
  • At a salad bar, load up with endless veggies that are just veggies. No pasta salad, cole slaw, things marinated with oil. For protein, they usually have eggs or diced chicken and ham. Oil and vinegar are great sprinkled on top instead of the chemical filled dressings.
  • Ask them to hold the butter and cheese. They usually mention cheese in the description but butter is tricky. Lots of places top burgers and chicken with butter for flavor but don’t tell you. Sneaky.
  • If you want a burger, get a burger. Hold the bun or better yet, ask if they can wrap it in lettuce for you. That’s the latest trend. A lettuce burger!

I follow these rules when eating out and haven’t had a waiter or chef complain yet. If when you’re just starting out, look online before you go to see if they have a menu posted. It’s a little easier if you can plan ahead before you get there.

Do you have any tips to add to my list? I’d love to hear them.

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