How to Make Healthy Choices When Eating Out

How to make healthy choices when eating out

Resisting temptation at a restaurant can be tough but shouldn't be your excuse to eat unhealthy foods. While you may think that eating healthy is just about using common sense, abiding by it becomes difficult especially when you're taunted by seemingly unlimited choices. But with a little knowledge and preparation, you can turn a restaurant meal from a calorie and carb laden threat to a healthy choice. So, in the interest of maintaining your resto-routine in a healthier way, we’ve got some tips for you.

Every Menu
Look for dishes that use a lot of fresh produce and greens. If it’s a meal without alcohol choose water or unsweetened drinks. Avoid soda at all cost. Just remember to control the amount you take in- you want most of your calories from a meal to be from food instead of liquids.
 
While ordering a salad always ask for dressing on the side and avoid anything that is creamy. Choose lemon, vinegar and olive oil based dressings and skip the bacon bits and fried noodles. Marinated or stir fry vegetables would be a healthy option too. Load up on the green leaves and raw vegetables so as to avoid consuming a larger amount of carbs, fats and sugars in your main meal.
 
Try not to be tempted by the pictures and descriptions of meals on the menus. Look for a dish that’s high on protein. If that doesn’t entice you much then portion control is your key to healthy eating. Either order that dish to share or make sure you ask for half a portion and doggy bag the rest. For the sides pass up the French fries and the cheese-stuffed potato and order two vegetables, steamed, or a salad and vegetables.
When in doubt about any dish on the menu ask the server. Find out more details about how your choice of meal is prepared and choose it accordingly. You should always know precisely what you’re putting in to your body. If the dish sounds unhealthy then it most probably is, request for substitutions.
 
If the only thing that is running through your mind is desserts and a cup of coffee isn’t doing the trick then order one. But share it. Try to deny yourself that triple chocolate slice of cake and you just might indulge in something worse. So order what you desire but order one dessert for the table. A bite or two is usually perfect and satisfying. Not in the mood to share then order? Then order a bowl of fruits or sorbet.

Indian Food

Indian Food

Try not to fill yourself with fried or roasted papads and dips, instead ask for a plate of raw vegetables and dip them in the chutney rather than the papad, especially if they are fried. Stay away from fried foods like samosas and other dishes rich in ghee, opt for tandoor cooked dishes. Enjoy a serving of raita and order a few more vegetarian dishes.

Ideal Order:
 
-    Tomato Shorba
-    Tandoori platter
-    Raita
-    Lean meat, poultry or seafood  curry
-    Yellow dal
-    Mix vegetable curry
-    Tandoori roti

Italian Food
 
Italian Food 
Skip the bread at all cost, keep bread consumption to a minimum. Opt for homemade pasta over cheese laden pizzas. Avoid the fried appetizers and instead filling up on a bowl of vegetable-laden minestrone is a good choice. Enjoy cold salads and tell your server to hold the croutons if opting for a Caesar’s salad. Select pasta dishes without a cream sauce and specify that chicken, fish, or veal be grilled or broiled instead of fried or sautéed.

Ideal Order:
 
- House salad with olive oil and vinegar
- Side of grilled calamari
- Minestrone soup
- Homemade pasta with lots of veggies
- Baked chicken or seafood
- Fruit sorbet or a cappuccino with a biscotti

Chinese Food
 
Chinese Food 
We admit that prawn crackers are delicious, so before being tempted and indulging in them ask the server not to bring any for the table. Opt for summer rolls instead of egg rolls and steamed rice instead on fried rice. If the restaurant serves hot pot, order one to share and have it as your main meal. Fish that has been poached steamed or grilled with a chilli and garlic sauce is a healthier choice than meat or poultry.

Ideal Order:
 
-    Egg drop or hot-and-sour soup
-    Steamed edamame
-    Vegetable dim sums, preferably steamed
-     Stir fried greens with fresh mushrooms
-    Poached fish with ginger and shallots
-    Steamed brown rice

Thai Food
 
Thai Food 
While Thai cuisine is typically known for its coconut milk based curries, there are healthier options available. Choose lemon grass, lime, curry, sweet and sour, basil, chili, fish sauce and if possible order the sauce on the side rather than having your dish swimming in it. Thai salads and broth based soups can drastically reduce the amount of fat and calories you consume at a Thai restaurant.

Ideal Order:
 
-    Thai summer roll
-    Green papaya salad
-    Sour shrimp soup
-    Cashew chicken
-    Glass noodles with stir fried or steamed vegetables
-    Jungle curry with sticky rice
-    Dragon fruit
 
Mexican Food
 
Mexican Food 
Avoid the chips and indulge in salsa and a small portion of guacamole. Only eat the beans if they are not refried, choose black or pinto beans instead. Avoid anything fried like chimichangas, tostada, taquitos and when choosing a wrap consider a whole grain or a corn tortilla. Be wise while making your alcoholic beverage choice, Margaritas made with premix should be completely avoided.
 
Ideal Order:
 
-    Gazpacho
-    Citrus marinated slaw
-    Fish Ceviche
-    Mushroom taco
-    Grilled shrimp
-    Grilled chicken fajita

..... Devashree Goenka