Many families dine in restaurants several times each week. Especially when both parents work, finding time to cook at home can be challenging. And, if you travel with work, then you are almost forced to eat out a lot.
Dinning out can be a social experience too. It brings the entire family together, even if everyone is going in different directions during the day. Often, other extended family members are included too.
But, dining out doesn’t have to mean eating unhealthy. It’s important to teach your children how to read a menu and select foods that are good for them. You will be doing them (and yourself) a huge favor if you help them order “smart.”
Here are 7 tips that will help you stay healthy while eating in your favorite restaurants:
#1 Choose Vegetables. Order a salad or steamed vegetables with dinner. Most restaurants will substitute steamed veggies for the normal baked potato or rice. Even if they don’t allow substitutions, see if you can order veggies on the side. If you order a salad, get the dressing on the side. Then, instead of pouring it on, just dip each bite in the dressing enough to taste it but not drench it.
#2 Avoid Fried Foods. Fried foods are packed with fat and calories. Avoid any entre that is fried and skip the French fries. Ask for a baked or broiled potato instead.
#3 Split entrees. The “normal” portions served at restaurants are usually much larger than a healthy size. Try splitting one entrée with your dinner companion, or if you’re dining alone, package up half and take it home for tomorrow’s lunch.
#4 Skip the bread. Many restaurants serve a basket of bread or chips before the meal. These are loaded with calories and just fill you up before your meal arrives. Tell the waiter thanks, but you don’t care for bread, and have him take it away. This will help you avoid temptation.
#5 No refills. It’s best not to order a sugary soft drink or juice with your meal in the first place. But, if you must, then limit yourself to one glass. When the waiter offers a refill, just say “no thanks.”
#6 Order a la Carte. There’s no reason to order a full meal if you don’t want it. Meals often come with lots of things that we wouldn’t normally eat like soup, potatoes, appetizers or dessert. Just order what you want from the a la carte section of the menu. You can even order an appetizer for your main course, if you want.
#7 Go light on condiments. Avoid scooping and dunking. Condiments like catsup can contain a lot of sugar and calories. Mayonnaise or sour cream-based sauces can be packed with fat. Try to use just enough to provide the taste you want.
We hope these 7 tips help make your dining experience both fun and healthy.
Remember, healthy choices you make each day can transform your family for generations! What choices will you make today?
Do You Wish Your Kid’s Ate Better? Check out our FREE eBook at www.HealthFamilyFuture.com. Many of the strategies in this book can be used by both children and adults.
You may also want to read: Family Meals: Do We Really Want Screens at the Table?, Picky Eaters: What We Can Lean From the French, Childhood Obesity: Portion Size Matters