Should You Still Be Eating Out?
The summer months are busy with traveling, vacations, and enjoying the sunny weather. A lot of people end up eating out when traveling or on vacation for the convenience, ambiance, and diversity of food. Sometimes, it’s not the easiest to keep to the foods and specific diet that you set up when eating out. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to eat towards your nutritional goals while at a restaurant. You can still eat out without guilt with a bit of prep work and the right mindset. We’ve come up with some tips and advice on what to look for, what to avoid, and what to keep in mind when eating out.
The only way to make a well-informed decision is to become informed. What better way than through nutritional facts? A lot of big-chain restaurants, along with some smaller ones, have calorie counts for each of their products. Fewer companies even have full nutritional facts for each of their orders. Most places that do have this information on their websites, which makes it even easier to plan out what you’ll eat while you’re out. Instead of scouring through the nutritional menu while at the restaurant, you can figure out what you’ll have from wherever you are.
Look at the nutritional guide for Applebee’s, for example. You can find the nutritional facts for every item in their menu. This isn’t just a calorie count; it shows protein, total carbs, potential allergens, and more. It doesn’t, however, show you extremely specific items, like Vitamin B12 or magnesium. One cool feature that it does allow you to do is sort things by nutritional value. If you’re looking for something with the most protein, you can easily find out by filtering the results to display foods with the highest protein per serving first.
This isn’t to say that every time you eat at Applebee’s that you’ll have healthy food. But it also doesn’t hide this from you. Oftentimes the reasons why we’re not meeting nutritional or weight loss goals that we set is because of the choices we make. If we’re unsure of what a good food choice is, then we’re potentially making the wrong choice. The website it built is dedicated to providing the facts about its food. Applebee’s dedication to creating an informative nutritional page allows you to make the choices best for you.
Read The Menu Before You Go
If a restaurant doesn’t have a nutritional facts menu, one trick is reading the menu beforehand and looking up the nutritional value of specific items, like a salad with one chicken breast and cheddar cheese. From there, you can look up the nutritional facts of individual ingredients on a website like NutritionIX. It’s a bit more prep work, though, and it might not be accurate. The menu might not mention an ingredient involved in the preparation of the food, such as what oil something is cooked in, or how much of an ingredient is used.
In the example above, you might not be sure of the portion of lettuce used, or whether there’s a marinade that adds some extra nutrition or calories. Maybe they sprinkle chopped almonds onto the salad, and it’s not something the menu mentions. However, making an educated guess by researching beforehand can help you make better decisions and keep you closer to your personal nutrition goals.
Be Smart About How It’s Cooked
Menu wording can offer clues and hints into how healthy the food is prepared. While cooking food tends to leech some of the nutrients from any food, there’s ways to cook that don’t add more unhealthy chemicals. Foods that are described as being steamed, roasted, grilled or poached tend to have less fat added to them. Less fat, less calories too worry about. Foods that are fried, crispy, pan-fried, sautéed, or crunchy, on the other hand, then to have more breading or oils incorporated in their cooking. This causes them to be more calorie-dense and nutritionally lighter.
Snacking Ahead Of Time
Oftentimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs when we eat out. This causes us to order and eat more than we need for our body to function. Even if the choices we make might be healthy, eating too much of anything good can cause imbalance in our systems. Eating a high protein snack before going out to eat is a proven way to lower your appetite. This means when you go out, you’re less likely to be tempted by larger platters of food that might not be as good for you.
There’s a lot of empty calories in most drinks like soda, beer, and wine. Zero sugar or diet sodas might help keep the calories down, but you’re also putting in a lot of potentially harmful chemicals into your body, disrupting that balance that you’re looking to achieve. Water is a nutrient your body needs. There’s very little in your body that doesn’t require water. It’s also zero calories, so you can always drink a bit more and not worry about any consequences. Switching from your refillable soda or carb-heavy beer to a water can cut hundreds of calories per meal and keep your body in better balance.
Check your Chicken
This tip comes from Tina, one of our Weight Loss Direct wellness coaches. While chicken is a healthy lean meat to incorporate into your diet, many restaurants use a marinade to add flavor to their chicken. Marinades add a lot of hidden calories to a healthy-looking meal, something you might not be expecting or even knowing. Ask your server or a manager about whether they marinate their chicken before ordering any chicken products while out. This way, you’re able to account for every calorie before you order.
There’s a lot of ways that eating out can become full of empty calories, harmful chemicals, and poor nutrition decisions. But there are plenty of ways to eat out while being conscious of your nutritional goals! The most important thing is to always be informed when making a decision. And if you can’t then go with your gut, for your gut.