Eating out (or in the pandemic, ordering in) is always a treat. You don’t have to cook and you can pick something you can’t cook! How can you accomplish this while still eating healthy? If you’ve ever been to some place like the Cheesecake Factory with it’s over-sized portions, you know sometimes it’s hard not to over-eat. Plus, you’ve got sides and bread and sauces and desserts, oh my!
Now overindulging everyone once and a while never killed anyone’s overall nutrition, even if it might have given you a stomach ache. A lot of people probably eat out most weekdays for lunch and you don’t see people measuring out portions at a restaurant. I know I used to take clients out for lunch or drinks multiple times a week. So how do I choose what to eat?
First, if I know where I am going to eat, I always check out the menu in advance. Most restaurants will also have their nutritional information online as well. You would be surprised how many times you will look and the salad is NOT the best option. If you look at the menu beforehand, you can meal plan while eating out! I also ask for dressing and sauces to be on the side and I usually ask for them to go easy on the cheese!
Another trick is to order a side salad, with dressing on the side, to eat prior to your entree coming out. I love Seasons 52 because you can get a delicious salad with a smaller flatbread as a “pick-two” type of meal, you are eating veggies along with the indulgent pick. I also skip soda or tea and just stick with water, normally with a lime.
Many restaurants also have lighter menu options, even the Cheesecake Factory! You can also substitute out some items that are processed or high in calories for other, healthier options. Our favorite burger place has turkey or vegetarian option that you can put over a salad. You can substitute a lettuce wrap for a bun or if you can’t live without a bun, take off the top and eat the bottom only.
I’ve even been known to order from the kids menu, which isn’t always easy to do when you eat in but getting takeout (or ordering room service) makes it easy. The portions are much smaller and manageable and most times mirror something on the main menu. They are also much less expensive, especially from room service!
A great example is our Friday night taco order. While my husband ordered 3 tacos just as the described, I ordered mine on a salad. The shells alone are over 300 calories and almost 60 carbs! Did I miss the shells? Absolutely not. I did take off a little of the cheese because there was A LOT of cheese but it was amazingly delicious and I was nicely full, not overstuffed.
What are some of your tricks when you eat out?