It used to be that dining out was a celebratory experience, shared with friends, co-workers and loved ones. With today’s need for instant gratification and over consumption, the average US adult eats out 4.8 meals a week in a restaurant. This leaves the professional cooks to do the cooking, and the customer at their mercy. Don’t get me wrong; sharing a meal out encourages conversation, laughter, relaxation and stimulation. But on the flip side,“The more you eat out, the more likely you are to be fat,” say obesity experts who have studied the link between eating at restaurants and obesity, which are both on the rise. Dining out encourages indulging and overeating foods that you wouldn’t normally consume at home. But, what if you could navigate the restaurant “system” to your benefit? Then you could enjoy a meal on the town and still be able to keep your body happy and healthy. Well, my friends, I have devised a dot-it-yourself method, so that we may all be able to enjoy our crab cake and eat it (at a restaurant) too.
Me & My Babe
1. Side dishes: Some of best vegetarian dishes are found under the title, “ Sides”. Even though you are at a restaurant doesn’t mean that you have to order an appetizer and/ or an entrée. Choose a vegetarian side dish as your meal and you’ll get an extra helping of fiber, foliate, vitamins and minerals. You’ll also fill up on the good stuff, keeping you fuller longer.
2. Share or take home: Most portions, now and days are way too much food for the average person. Instead of eating until you want to purge, save some money and share with a friend or bring half home for next-day leftovers. If you want to share and prefer not to eat off the same plate, have the kitchen split it for you. Both your wallet and your belly will thank you later.
3. Have a glass of wine and relax (if your over 21, haha): Ok, so you may not believe all of the new health studies on the benefits of wine. Even so, just by slowly sipping on your favorite vino, you give yourself time to digest, and therefore time to realize that you may be fuller then you thought. Slowing us down, wine helps us take a moment to stop and smell the roses (or grapes) and realize that eating is not a race to the finish.
4. No bread: Even though bread may be the most tempting part of a meal, don’t let it ruin your diet. Just one white roll has approximately 140 calories…and that’s just before the meal. In order to avoid temptation, just as you sit down, kindly tell your waiter/waitress that. “You wont be needing the bread”. Instead drink an entire glass of water. Sometimes when you think that you’re starving, you’re actually just thirsty. You can also grab a healthy snack, such as a carrot, nuts or an apple if your feeling famished before the meal.
5. Add protein to a salad: Pretty simple; find a healthy salad on the menu, and add some seafood, tofu, or a little meat and watch an appetizer size salad turn into a satisfying meal fit for a king or queen.
6. Just say no to dessert: I know that most of us have a wicked sweet tooth, but try to fill up on the good stuff, such as veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein during dinner, so that by the time desert comes along, you’re too full to eat one more bite. But, understandably if you just NEED a sweet sensation, opt for whole fruit or sorbet.