We love it….eating out. The food is fabulous, the atmosphere, friends, and entertainment. It’s America’s favorite pastime, dining out. On average we dine out four times a week in the US according to the National Restaurant Association. While it provides us with enjoyment, companionship and an evening of fun, it also provides health risks to those on special diets for health problems.
If you are living with diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) or heart disease, or are simply trying to watch your waistline, eating out can have devastating consequences if you head to the restaurant unprepared. While foodies with health issues can still enjoy cuisine at favorite eateries the following guidelines will help you keep health issues in check while indulging at your local favorite hot spots:
1. Know before you go: Go online or collect menus from you local favorite eateries prior to your visit. Explore the menu and determine your healthy options before stepping foot inside. This will help you resist specials and reduce the pressure on making a decision in the moment.
2. Be Salad Savvy: Salads can be packed with healthy veggies. Begin with a large veggie loaded salad, but beware of the cheeses, bacon bits, and hard-boiled eggs in many salad options. Don’t forget the dressing – these can be loaded with sodium, fat, and calories. Instead bring your favorite spritzer from home or dress table side with a splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If you choose the restaurant’s dressing ask for it on the side, and use the prong technique. Dip the tings of your fork in the dressing then spear your salad. You’ll get dressing with every bite while using less.
3. Choose healthy preparation methods. How your meal is prepared dramatically affects the calorie, fat, sugar and salt content. Broiling, baking, poaching, and grilling seafood, poultry, and lean meats provide all the flavor without the added fat. Other “beware of” words include: buttery, sautéed, pan-fried, au gratin, Thermidor, Newburg, Parmesan, cheese sauce, scalloped, and au lait, à la mode, or au fromage (with milk, ice cream, or cheese).
4. Have it your way. Chefs are accustomed to making substitutions and alterations to dishes to meet dietary restrictions. Don’t be afraid to ask. Request meats are brushed with olive oil instead of cooked in butter. Request low or no sodium, added to your foods. Sauces can be eliminated or served on the side as these can be the undoing of a healthy meal.
5. Substitute carb based sides (potatoes, French fries, rice) with veggies then double it. Steamed veggies are filling and flavorful. Be careful these are steamed and without sauces, salt, or butter.
6. Limit or Eliminate Alcohol. Fruity drinks are not only laden with calories, they are full of carbohydrates. If you choose to drink alcohol limit it to one – choose a light beer, 5oz of non-sweet wine, or 1.5 oz of liquor all have 150 calories or less and under 10 grams of carbohydrates. Beware; alcohol has its own effect on blood sugar levels. One drink can raise blood sugar, while more than one can drastically reduce blood sugar to dangerous levels. As well alcohol can increase blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
7. Skip desert. Desserts are loaded with sugar, cream and butter. These calorie powerhouses can sabotage a well laid out plan to maintain a healthy diet. If you must indulge stick to the three bite rule – only three bits and savor that indulgence.
Following these simple steps will allow you to enjoy great food with great company while keeping your health in check. For more information about managing diabetes, hypertension or heart disease contact the team of professionals at Personal Physician Care at 561-498-5660.