For the health-minded among us, preparing your own food at home can bring peace of mind in a big way. After all, when you’re the chef you know exactly what you’re eating, from shopping for the ingredients to choosing which ingredients – and how much of each – go into each dish.
Eating out is a whole different ballgame, though. You have to throw some of your control out the window, yes, but dining out should also be an enjoyable experience. Armed with a plan and the right tools, you’ll be able to make choices you can feel good about.
Here are some dishes to look for on menus to keep your restaurant meals healthy and delicious:
At a Mexican restaurant: Go light on the chips and instead fill up on an order of grilled chicken fajitas with corn rather than flour tortillas. Other substitutions to look for within this dish: ask for salsa instead of sour cream, substitute black beans for refried, say “no thanks” to the rice (or ask for brown instead) and ask for your veggies dry to avoid an abundance of oil with your meal.
At a Thai restaurant: Grabbing takeout from your favorite local Thai joint can be a convenient meal option, and with some ordering tricks up your sleeve you’ll be able to make it a healthy choice as well. Go for menu items like chicken satay, summer rolls (spring rolls are fried, so be wary of those), and Thai-style vegetables. Stay away from the fried rice, which is loaded with oil, and instead go for a curry. Though they’re relatively high in fat, most of that fat comes from coconut milk and can help decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease. Pick a lean protein option and you can feel good about your meal choice!
At an American restaurant: These menus can be tricky, because they’re likely full of menu items with fries as a side dish option, deep-fried appetizers, and bacon as a key ingredient. Not to worry! There’s definitely something for the health-conscious here. You can always go the salad route (being careful to avoid high-calorie toppings like fried items, too much cheese, croutons, and creamy dressings), topping it with a lean protein to round things out, and asking for oil and vinegar – on the side – as your dressing. Burgers can be an awesome choice as well, especially if you order them sans cheese and ask the server to ditch the bun. Pick a veggie as a side (no – fries don’t count) and you’ll have a healthy meal that will keep you full.
At a pizza place: Though the pepperoni may be calling your name, your best bet at a pizza restaurant is to get a thin-crust pie, light on the cheese, with as many veggies as possible. We suggest a salad on the side (steer clear of creamy dressings, too much cheese, and other high-calorie toppings) to round things out and help you eat less pizza by filling up on that instead.
At an Indian restaurant: When going the Indian restaurant route, it can be all too easy to fill up on basmati rice and delicious naan bread, but to keep things on the healthy side try to stick to menu items with “tandoori” in the name (meaning oven-grilled).