Friday, December 10, 2010

Food Fridays - Tips on Making Healthy Restaurant Choices

We are in the throws of the holiday season. Many of us will eat out far more during the holiday season than what we normally do, with office lunches, special dinner celebrations and holiday parties. It's difficult to maintain weight loss with all of this dining out. But, it CAN be done and it CAN be delicious!

Here are a few tips I've come up with from my experience over the last few months.

1. Select a lean protein. This sounds simple but once looking at a menu it can feel a bit overwhelming. Grilled or broiled fish or chicken are safe bets. I also always request that no butter or oil be used in preparation, but ask if they will please use any other non-fat based seasonings.

2. Keep your sides to fresh fruit and/or veggie selections. Most restaurants have some type of fresh produce selection. It may be a salad but just beware of added items on the salad like cheese, meats, eggs, dressings as these can really add up to being a lot of fat. If the salad is the meal, great but if the salad is a SIDE, try to keep it as such.  Better yet, venture out of your "normal" zone and order some fresh grilled vegetables (again, ask for no oil or butter), have a sweet potato, baked potato or stick with a selection of fresh fruit. If the fruit is a "fruit salad" ask if it was prepared fresh or if it was delivered frozen. Many of the "frozen fresh" fruits often have added sugar.

3. Let the water flow like a river. Drink plenty of water before and during your meal. It really helps when you are trying to maintain portion control. 

4. Stay away from fried foods and appetizers. Your worst enemy at these dinners are the apps that come out before the meal. Breads and deep fried foods have a way of making it to the table in large quantities at these functions. These foods can often equal more calories than the meal itself! Some even equal more calories than the recommended daily input! This is where mingling, chatting and socializing can help - the more you chat it up the less likely you will be to consume all those goodies prior to the main course.

5. Maintain portion control. If you are at location that is known for large portions, ask for a to go box when your meal comes to the table. Decide how much your serving will be and then box up the rest BEFORE you start eating. Selective memory can change the history of your meal quickly. Two or three extra bites can take you down a path of consuming the entire plate of food before you realize it. Avoid this. If you don't want to take the remaining food with you, "accidentally" forget it at the table when you leave. I often take it with me. Sadly, there are many that are less fortunate that are hard to miss while traveling through town. I usually give my to go boxes to those that I see standing at the intersections.  They get a decent meal and I don't feel obligated to eat the left overs.

I've been practicing this for a while now and honestly, it works. I have been seeing losses on the scale, even on weeks when eating out was more frequent than usual.

Do you have any tips you can share on what you do while out to lunch or dinner?  What are some of your favorite healthy selections?

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