How to Eat Healthy While Dining Out

 

We ate brown food like deep-fried chicken fingers, French fries and chocolate milk, capped off with a gooey dessert. Chances are you don’t eat like that anymore, but many of us still overindulge when dining out. With a little planning, you can still make a restaurant meal an experience without blowing your diet.

what’s for dinner

Dr. Robert F. Kushner, professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, offers four suggestions for avoiding these common pitfalls when dining out:

1. Dine out without a plan

Before heading out, view the menu online and consider healthy options, like an interesting salad, grilled fish and a vegetable side.

2. Arriving at the restaurant starving

Skipping meals during the day to save calories can backfire as you hit the breadbasket or gorge on an appetizer.

3. Ordering off the menu “as is”

Make simple requests to improve the nutritional content of the meal and reduce the fat and calories. Ask for no cheese, a side of fruit or vegetables instead of fries, light salad dressing, salsa instead of sour cream and no extra salt. These changes make a difference.

4. Eating more than you intended

American and Italian fare generally come in supersized portions. Split your entree or take home half.

find your spot

Found Kitchen and Social House in Evanston, like many small-plate restaurants, has lots of grains and vegetables on the menu. The kale salad and crudité with baby beets and house-made yogurt are examples of tasty starters that are good for your body. According to owner Amy Morton, items made in Found’s wood burning oven tend to be lighter in cooking style with little oil. She also suggests drinking lots of water with your meal, watching liquid calories and eating green (vegetable) calories.

Homemade Organic Green Kale Chips

 

and one more thing…

Here are a few additional tips to keep it skinny when eating out:

  • Eat a healthy, light snack with a little protein before going out to tame your hunger.
  • Start with a salad or an appetizer like ceviche.
  • Allow yourself a reasonable portion of bread.
  • Ditch the fried chips at Mexican spots.
  • Eat slowly and put your fork down after each bite. Enjoy the conversation.
  • Order an appetizer as a main course.
  • Look for half orders, which are generally closer to right-size portions.
  • Avoid cream-based sauces.
  • Indulge in one dessert split four ways.
  • Order healthier food off the adult menu, and have your kids share it rather than feeding them brown food off the kids’ menu.