EATING OUT SHOULD BE ENJOYABLE but you still want to get some nutritional bang for your buck. Experts recommend reviewing menus online prior to choosing a restaurant and looking for ways to make healthy substitutions for high fat, high salt and high calorie options. Choose salsa instead of butter or ranch dressing, fruit instead of French fries, grilled or baked meats/fish/poultry and broth based soups.
• Choose menu items that are designated “healthier”.
• Order items “protein style” – Wrapped in lettuce instead of on a bun.
• Choose options with minimal accompanying carbohydrates.
• Skip the bread and butter or chips and dip offered before your meal arrives. Bring fresh fruits or veggies that your child can snack on while waiting for the meal to be served.
• Keep it colorful. “I need to find a rainbow on my plate” says ASU Associate Professor Leigh Small, Ph.D. “It’s not only exiting for kids, but the color comes from fruits and veggies and gives them the variety they need.”
• Choose fresh fruits instead of those canned in syrups.
• Ask for water flavored with fresh-cut lemon, lime, orange or cucumber rather than sugary sodas or hydration drinks.
• Have a salad and drink a glass of water prior to the main course to take the edge off hunger.
• Ask for dressings on the side. If you dip your fork in the dressing before each bite you end up eating much less dressing, which is where the calories are.
• Feed kids from the adult menu instead of the children’s menu to avoid processed foods. Have the kids share a healthy meal, or take left overs home.
• Ask the servers to place half of the adult portions in a “to go” container prior to serving it. Portion sizes and the caloric value of food served in restaurants is usually twice what an adult should eat at a meal.
• Eat slowly when the meal is served.
• Don’t add salt; most restaurant meals have more than enough.