Ten Tips: A Restaurant Survival Guide

eating out healthily

Written by Sydney Cobb

quick drive down any main street will lead you past multiple dining temptations: fast food drive-thrus, sit-down restaurants and the especially alluring newcomer—fast casual restaurants. The variety of choices caters to any appetite, making the enticement an almost daily struggle. Sometimes, we just don’t have the resources, energy or time to eat at home, and restaurants are the best option. It may take some self-discipline, but there are some surefire ways to keep your diet healthy, even when eating on-the-go.

Healthy is a relative term and may differ for everyone. Are you trying to keep your diet low in sugar, or high in fiber? Low in calories, or high in fruits and vegetables? These goals are attainable no matter the restaurant, as long as you are aware and in control.

  1. Check the nutrition information. In some states, restaurants are required to provide the caloric values on the menus, but Utah isn’t one of them. Sometimes, the salad isn’t the best choice—use the internet to check values and make a decision that fits in with your health goals.
  2. Make fruits and vegetables the majority of your meal. No, that doesn’t include French fries! Most restaurants will let you ask for a bigger side and a smaller entrée. You can also replace sides like French fries and mashed potatoes with apple slices, green beans, or another option. Don’t be afraid to customize your order.
  3. Look for red flags. Words like fried, creamy, breaded, and crisp are hints that a dish may be a little too
  4. Stay hydrated! With water. You’ll save money and avoid the extra calories that are easy to rack up with sugary drinks.
  5. Take it home. Don’t feel like you have to eat your entire meal in one sitting. Listen to your body and save the leftovers for later.
  6. Dip your salad. Hidden sugars often reside in salad dressings, so avoid smothering your salad all at once. Instead, dip your fork in the dressing before taking a bite.
  7. Treat yourself. Often, ignoring a craving just makes you more likely to binge later. Control your appetite by giving in and planning the rest of your day’s meals to be a little healthier.
  8. Have a game plan. Decide beforehand what you’re going to eat so that you can be steadfast when the pictures and smells tempt you. If you’re eating with a group, order first so that your friends’ orders can’t sway you.
  9. Try the grocery store. Even on-the-go, grocery stores offer many more options than a typical restaurant. You can comparison shop and cater your cravings, or even grab a sandwich at the deli.
  10. Eat slowly. It takes awhile for our bodies to recognize that we’re full. Even when in a hurry, err on the side of eating less. Your body will thank you after about 20 minutes.

Sources: American Heart Association

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