Even the healthiest eaters don’t always make the right decisions when dining out. Restaurants are notorious for large potions, invisible additives like melted butter and offering few low-fat or low-calorie options. Since menus generally don’t come with fine print, you should be aware of and try to avoid making these common deadly dining out sins.
Your body will not properly function if you don’t have a diet with enough healthy fats. Skip foods with trans fats, which are unhealthy fats, and which include most baked goods (say no to the extra basket of bread) and French fries. Foods with healthy fats, or monounsaturated fats, include avocados, fish and nuts. Count calories and order foods full of healthy fat and you’ll be fine.
Despite what you think, the health benefits of eating fruit, and there are many, may be negated by how much and what type of fruit you eat. Most fruits pack quite the sugar wallop, and too much sugar is never a good thing. One or two pieces a day is fine, but that fruit plate probably isn’t the wisest decision to make.
If you’re too busy for cereal or even dry wheat toast, you’re likely to overdo it at dinner. Even if you ordered a heart-healthy meal, too much of it (or if it’s something that you’d likely never order when you’re not starving) and you could tank your resolve to eat and live healthier.
What can be wrong with a large salad? The lettuce is practically negative calories (in fact, you burn more calories eating it than it has to begin with), the vegetables are all good for you, and you’ve gone without croutons, but most salad dressings are high in calories and fat. Try a low-fat or no-fat dressing option, lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. If you can’t eat salad without your full-fat ranch, order it on the side. Studies show that you’re likely to use less dressing if you have to dip forkfuls of salad into it rather than pouring it on your salad.
Most restaurant portion sizes are larger than a single portion, so that skinless chicken breast may be healthy in small doses, but if you’re not careful, you can down three or four servings in one sitting. Think about having half of your meal put in a to-go bag before you get it, and you’re less likely to eat the entire meal. Plus, you’ll have a healthy lunch ready to go the next day.
A glass of wine may be heart-healthy, but a bottle likely isn’t. Neither are mixed drinks. Drink water, and leave the alcohol in the bottle.
Many restaurants will smother vegetables in melted butter, which will add calories and fat to your healthy side dish. Ask for vegetables to be steamed, or request that nothing be added to your veggie dish.
If your sandwich comes with several added condiments, consider sticking with one or two, leaving off dairy-based condiments like mayonnaise, and even ordering your sandwich plain.
How easy, filling up on bread, and how deadly, too. Not only is carbo-loading a one-way ticket to crashing and burning, but it may keep you from eating more healthy options, like vegetables. Pass on the bread, but if you want it, consider ordering something from the menu that comes with bread, like a sandwich. Better to eat bread with your meal than before.
Though fast food comes quickly, it doesn’t have the same potential health benefits as restaurant dining. If you’re going to eat out, pick a restaurant that doesn’t have a drive-through. You’re not only going to have an array of meal options, but if you’re dining with friends or family, you’re likely to spend as much, if not more time, talking than you will eating. Remember that the best part of a meal out is the conversation you get on the side.
Dining out doesn’t have to be deadly, or make you pack on the pounds, but that all depends on the choices you make at mealtime. Ask for what you want and how you want it. If you can’t get it, go elsewhere. Plenty of restaurants are willing to serve it your way.