Be a Smart Menu Navigator – Tips To Make Healthy Food Choices

Do you choose your restaurants before going out knowing that it would serve a healthy dish to suit your choice or do you pick from the limited available options?
There are times when we decide to eat out instead of cooking for ourselves. In this kind of situation we have complete power over the choice of dining location. At other times, we may have no choice if we’d like to join a group that already has decided and is at a restaurant.
Select a hearty meal that fits into your nutrition plan. The following guidance will assist with meal selections.
Appetizers
Appetizers are tasty but they cause mindless nibbling, which adds fat and calories. Skip the bowl of peanuts, or the basket of bread, after you’ve had a small portion. Select grilled or steamed appetizers and not the ones that are fried or covered with cheese.
Soups
Many soups are low in calories and will help fill you up and satisfy your hunger. Select a broth or other light soup, such as a vegetable soup. Avoid cream soups that are high in fat.
Salads
Salads are more than just rabbit food. Fresh vegetable salads are great, but ask for balsamic vinaigrette, a fat-free, or a reduced-calorie salad dressing on the side to control how much or how little you add.
If a salad bar is included in the meal, avoid cheese, croutons, potato, Caesar salads, creamed pastas, and coleslaw. Color your greens with juicy red tomatoes, bright orange carrots, green peas, yellow and red bell peppers, dark green broccoli, crispy cucumbers, and other vegetables.
Main Meal
The main course, or the main meal, can be a healthy affair.
Meat/Fish
Meat portions should be about the size of a deck of cards, not the size of your plate. Pass on gravies or heavy sauces, which add a significant amount of fat. Season your meat with pepper, chunky salsa, or herbs.
Chicken can be great if it is not fried or consumed with its skin. Avoid beef and pork preparations.
Ask that the meat or fish be steamed, baked, grilled, or roasted instead of deep-fried or prepared in butter or oil.
Starches/Carbohydrates
Order a baked potato (without the sour cream and butter) or plain rice—not fried rice. Avoid onion rings, other fried vegetables and au gratin.
Order pasta with tomato-based sauce, not cream sauce.
Choose whole-grain bread and dishes made with brown rice.
Vegetables
Stay away from cheesy and battered, deep-fried vegetables or those prepared in oil or butter.
Grilled or stir-fried vegetables are a great option.
Beverages
It is important to stay adequately hydrated, but an easy way to gain weight is by drinking sodas, alcohol, and milk, which only add unnecessary, empty calories. Energy drinks, CHO-electrolyte beverages, sweetened tea, and juice drinks can promote weight gain.
If wine is desired, have one glass with the main dish. Take time to enjoy the taste by sipping it slowly rather than just consuming it.
Dessert
Try a herbal tea or decaffeinated coffee. If you can’t resist dessert, order sorbet, fresh berries, frozen yogurt, or ice milk. If you want something outrageous, split it with your dining partner or eat half only. Half the dessert equals half the calories.
Other Helpful Tips:
·         Eat slowly and take time to taste and savor the food. Enjoy your dinner conversation.
·         Ask how an appealing dish is prepared and request healthy substitutes (baked instead of fried, olive oil instead of butter).
·         Ask for a “take away” up front and set aside half of your meal prior to eating. This will help ensure that you will not overeat. You will have another meal of your leftovers the next day.
·         Avoid buffets they just give reason to over-eat, particularly on unhealthy foods.
The trend toward eating more meals away from home reflects a growing demand for convenience, entertainment, and a variety of ethnically diverse foods.

Active schedules, training requirements, and deployments make eating a majority of meals away from home appealing—it is simpler than cooking at home.  Make use of these tips for sensible eating.

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