By planning ahead, you can enjoy a balanced meal and maintain a healthy diet when you eat out at restaurants or travel.
Strategies for Making Healthy Choices at Restaurants
1. Be Prepared
- Check the restaurant’s online menu before you get there. Choose the option with less salt and sugar, and more vegetables and whole grains. Planning meals before you’re hungry will set you up to choose the healthier option.
2. Avoid Added Sugar
- Drink water, fat-free or low-fat plain milk, unsweetened tea, or other beverages without added sugars.
3. Limit Unhealthy Fats
- Use olive oil and balsamic vinegar on your bread instead of butter.
- Order foods without creamy sauces and gravies or order them on the side.
- Substitute fries for salad or steamed vegetables.
4. Increase Fiber
- Choose menu items that include vegetables such as stir-fry, grilled kebobs, or steamed broccoli.
- Ask for whole wheat bread for sandwiches or whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta.
5. Prevent Overeating
- Eat slowly – it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to recognize that it’s full.
- Ask for salad dressing on the side and use only as much as you need, avoiding extra calories.
- Split a large meals with a family member or friends.
- Don’t try to “clean your plate.” Instead, pack half of your food in a “doggy bag” and take it home to eat later.
Healthy Snack Combination
It’s harder to make healthy food choices when we’re extremely hungry. Pack healthy snacks with enough protein and fiber to keep you full longer. At work on on-the-go, use an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack for snacks that need to be refrigerated.
- Greek yogurt, sliced fruits, such as strawberries and bananas, and almonds
- Whole grain crackers or chopped vegetables, such as carrots and celery, with non-fat cottage cheese or hummus
- Low-fat string cheese, apples, and unsalted nuts
- Whole wheat toast or tortilla with peanut butter and bananas
- “Ants on a Log” – celery sticks spread with peanut butter and topped with raisins or unsweetened dried cranberries
- Half a whole grain bagel with sliced avocado and low-sodium turkey slices
- Hard boiled egg with cubed cheese and grapes
- Choose a healthy and affordable meal from the restaurant’s online menu before you get there.
- Purchase snack items, such as nuts and dried fruit, in bulk. Portion them out into snack sized containers for inexpensive, on-the-go snacks.