I rarely eat out anymore. I just don't trust what is being served. Does it have MSG, GMOs, high-fructose corn syrup, or too much salt? Has it been microwaved? Is the wild-caught or farm raised? Is the meat organic? Unless the meat is labeled organic, it isn't. Are they using margarine or butter? Even 5 star restaurants take short cuts or cheaper methods to save money. Of course you can ask the restaurant and hope they are telling the truth. Most of the time we just don't know. In addition to not being healthy, most food in restaurants has much more calories than it would have if you made it yourself. You should make eating out the exception, not the rule. When I do eat out, I frequent small local restaurants where I know the owner and they know how I want my food prepared. However, if you are trying to lose weight, one meal could create a major set back if loaded with sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats.
If you can't avoid going to a restaurant, be careful when you read restaurant menus. They are designed to aim your eyes to the more expensive and usually less healthy items. Dr. Mercola in his article "7 Ways Restaurant Menus Trick You to Spend More" talks about the tricks restaurants use to get you to buy these menu items. Usually, you have to dig through the menu to find something healthy. Stay away from red meats (burgers and steaks), fried chicken, creamed pastas, and farm raised fish. I usually order the stir fry, pasta with marinara sauce, or veggie burger with beans and rice. Fish is also good as long as it is wild caught. Some tricks you can use when eating out include the following:
- Right before I go to a restaurant eat a small apple to curb your appetite. If you don't have time or access to an apple, drink a glass of water. That way you won't be ravenous and throw caution to the wind.
- Split the main meal with someone if it is large (which is usually the case) and order an extra side dish. When I have brunch with my daughter we split the 4 egg omelet and potatoes and order extra toast and fruit.
- Bring a container from home for the leftovers. That way, you won't feel guilty about leaving food on your plate. Better yet, place half your food in your container before you even begin eating.
- Drink ice tea (with stevia you brought from home) or water with your meal. Alcoholic drinks and sodas are very high in calories. No diet soft drinks or sweeteners. If you haven't read my post on the dangers of aspartame, please read it now.
- Lastly, NEVER eat desert in a restaurant. Desert in a restaurant is likely to have 600 to 1000 calories and more sugar than you need for a week of eating. What about a cup of fresh fruit? That is much better but fruit does not digest well AFTER a meal. It is better to have fruit 1/2 hour before a meal. If you must have something while everyone else is having desert, order a cup of tea or coffee with half and half. Bring your own sweetener such as stevia. It will help your digestion and have significantly less calories (30-50) than desert even if you add sugar (which I don't recommend). You will feel much better later while everyone else is feeling stuffed and sluggish.