By Laurie Sweig
Going out to a restaurant was always a treat. Sometimes it was to try something I would never cook, and sometimes it was to avoid cooking altogether. This pandemic situation that we’ve been living in for a year reduced our options. It’s either cook it yourself or get take out/order it in. In addition to getting us out of the kitchen, ordering from a restaurant allows us to support local businesses. Those both get a thumbs up! However, poor ordering choices can rack up the calories consumed. That is the downside of the equation.
I appreciate that these are challenging times, especially for the folks who are working from home and have a family to feed. Cooking three meals a day under these circumstances would take me to the end of my rope for sure. Thank goodness help is just a call away. Once again the quality over quantity rule needs to apply to avoid the extra pounds that could be sneaking onto your waistline. Here are some ideas to keep things on the healthier side of the spectrum:
• Watch out for those bad carbohydrates like breads, pastas and french fries. Reduce the amount you consume. As an example, ditch the bun if you’re ordering a burger and fries. Or ditch the fries and keep the bun. Have salad instead (with the dressing on the side and limit the amount that goes on the salad). If you’re ordering pasta don’t order garlic bread to go with it. Again, salad would be a wise choice. When you can, choose the whole grain option for breads, pasta or rice if it’s available.
• Every so often, look for red meat alternatives. Poultry, seafood, beans or tofu are great options. Have you tried a veggie burger? They are really good.
• Load up on vegetables. Either order from the restaurant’s menu or even better grab stuff from your fridge. Make a salad or saute some spinach, peppers or broccoli to go with what you’ve ordered.
• Avoid anything fried or limit it. I know, it tastes so good but it’s high in calories and low in nutrition!
• Beware of the salt content in the food you’re ordering. Many restaurants use a lot of salt. Adding a vegetable dish or salad that you prepare at home (you will know the salt content) to the meal will help to reduce the percentage of salt you’ll be consuming.
• Reduce the cheese or sauces that come with the meal if you can. Those wonderfully rich and creamy toppings add hundreds of nutritionally empty calories.
• Plan on having leftovers. Turn the one meal into two. That will reduce the calories consumed and the cost per meal.
It does take a bit more planning to eat well when ordering from a restaurant. It can be challenging. Normally, just before we make the call we’re hungry and everything on the menu looks so good. Anything cheesy, saucy and fried is so tempting. Do your best to avoid it or choose one small item to feed the temptation instead of giving in to it completely. A little goes a long way.
Something to think about.
Laurie Sweig is a certified personal fitness trainer and spinning instructor. She owns and operates The Point for Fitness. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.