Going to a restaurant should not be your excuse to eat unhealthy foods and sneaky meals which appear to be healthy on the menu could ruin your diet.
Food in restaurants could be loaded with fat, calories and may not carry any nutritional labels listing calorie and fat content.
It is not difficult to make smart choices while dining out as you might think if you could understand hidden calories.
There are many ingredients added to enhance flavor, texture, color added in restaurant food like toppings, dressings, sauces etc which could increase the calorie count manifolds in a dish.
One of the reasons so many people struggle with weight control is due to these hidden calories and fat.
These tips will help you steer clear of hidden fat and calories while dining out.
Make it a habit to always Ask how the food was prepared
Don’t go by what you read on the menu or what the waiter tells you. Read between the lines.
For instance, sauteed does not mean light, fat-free and healthy so does “lite”, not necessarily mean that it is light on calories or fat.
Once you start asking how your food order is cooked, you would get a fairly good idea about what’s gonna come on the plate, healthy food or calories.
Read between the lines
Be cautious while reading menu descriptions. Words like creamy, crispy, breaded, stuffed, sauces are most likely loaded with hidden saturated and trans fats.
Some other terms you should be aware of are: buttery, pan-fried, cheese sauce, sautéed, au gratin, Parmesan, Thermidor, Newburg, scalloped, au lait (prepared or served with milk), à la mode (topped with ice cream), or au fromage (with milk, ice cream, or cheese).
Choose healthy appetizers which comprise of fresh fruits and vegetables, lettuce cups, fish etc.
Avoid anything that is fried or anything with bread, they are generally very high in calories.
You could absolutely skip them and head for the main course straight away.
Your bet should be on broth-based or tomato-based soups.
Avoid creamed soups, chowders, and pureed soups could be loaded with heavy cream, egg yolks, emulsifiers and artificial flavorings.
Skip the temptation and order your soup without any accompaniments like bread basket, butter, croutons in soups, which comes complimentary and additional fat and calories.
They are the ultimate health foods and they could also become health nightmare if ordered incorrectly.
Avoid and dressings with mayo etc. Instead, opt for dressings like vinaigrettes.
An ideal choice is a lettuce or spinach salad with a low-fat dressing on the side.
Again, restrict yourself on all of the high-calorie add-ons, like cheese, croutons, red meat etc. Once again, ask the server.
Most of the times, just the name of a dish can give away its high fat and calorie indication.
A good idea would be to skip anything with creamy sauces like pasta dishes with meat or cheese.
Look for healthy terms such as roasted, steamed, poached, grilled, baked, broiled without added butter etc.
Choose leaner meat cuts like T-bone, sirloin, flank steak, strip steak and pot roast.
These are all lean cuts of beef, which are lower in saturated fat and calories compared to other options on the menu. Poultry is another smart way to go, so is seafood or tofu.
Ensure the dish you want to order is not deep fried.
Wait, finish your entree first and then think if you really feel like having a dessert.
If you have to, choose a healthy dessert option like a sorbet or sherbet which include some fresh fruit.
Beware of the low-carb options
It is becoming a fad with Restaurant chains and many have jumped on the low-carb bandwagon.
You would come across a hoard of places offering numerous low-carb options on their menu. They might not really be low-carb.
“CRISPY”. Beware of this word
Don’t even look at anything that says ‘crispy’. It’s definitely deep fried, dunked in batter full of carbs.
Skip fancy drinks
like pina colada, margaritas etc. They are loaded with sugars. Instead order plain drinks like light beer, wine, vodka with tonic, simple martini etc.
Food for thought
Curb the urge to order more food than you need and eat everything you ordered. There is always another day! Happy Eating!