Whether we are eating at home or dining out making healthy choices is important at every age. When deciding what to eat or drink while dining out, it is important to select options full of nutrients and limit sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. Using MyPlate while focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and dairy, we can stay focused while dining out. Here are some tips to help us stay focused.
- Choose water, fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, and other drinks without added sugars to complement your meal. Soda, alcohol, and other caffeinated drinks add extra calories and offer no nutritional value.
- Decode the menu by looking for items that are baked, broiled, grilled, poached, steamed, boiled, or roasted. This will limit extra saturated fat and salt. If you aren’t sure, ask how menu items are prepared and/or if they can be prepared a different way.
- Start your meal with veggies. Starting your meal with a salad or other vegetables, you will feel fuller sooner and ensure you get valuable vegetable nutrients. Ask for the dressing on the side and use a small amount of it.
- When ordering food, portions can be very large. Consider sharing a meal with someone else or making two meals out of it by saving half for the next day. You can ask for a take-home container when your food arrives and split it then, so you’re not tempted to overeat.
- Pick dishes that highlight vegetables, such as stir-fries, veggie wraps, or kabobs. Select fruit as a side dish or for dessert. Request whole grain pasta, bread, rolls, and brown rice when choosing sandwiches, burgers, or main dishes.
- Before you order takeout or head to a restaurant, see if menu information is available online. Look for choices that are lower in calories, sodium, and saturated fat, and head to the restaurant with a plan.
- When selecting your entrée pick sauces made from vegetables like marinara, rather than cream or butter sauces to limit calories. You can ask for them on the side or for the dish to be prepared with less or no sauce.
- Pass on the buffet. Enjoy an item on the menu rather than the “all you can eat” buffet, so you avoid eating too much.
- Quit the “clean your plate club.” Decide to save some for another meal and take home leftovers in a container and chill in the refrigerator right away.
We can make eating out a healthy and enjoyable experience when we make smart decisions about the food and drinks, we select. The benefits of healthy eating add up over time, bite by bite.
For more information on MyPlate and ways we can stay healthy, check out www.myplate.gov