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  • Haley Schlechter, RD, LDN

Stress Free Eating Out

Going out can be a real pain when you are trying to lose weight or just eat healthy, for that matter. The truth is, it does not have to be nor should it be! Going out is a treat, and generally, a time to catch up with friends or family! Eating out while trying to maintain weight loss doesn't mean you are doomed to ruin your diet progress nor does it mean you have to get a salad. Unless you really enjoy salad, then right on my friend! This week I wanted to provide you with a simple guide of the best options to choose when eating out and what you should be eating in moderation.

The Best Options: Maybe you are stressed out from the very first question. What will you have to drink? To which I suggest ordering water, sugar free seltzer or fresh orange juice (if you are brunching). At first pass of the menu seek out your lean/healthy fat protein options. This includes; chicken, turkey, fish (salmon), ham, lean beef, Canadian bacon. These are going to offer the most protein without sacrificing too many calories. Next, check out the sides. Try to make half your plate steamed, grilled or roasted vegetables of any kind. This leaves about a 1/4 of your plate for grains or starch. Your best options include brown/wild rice, quinoa or whole grain pasta. Next, it is all in the description. Look to see how your choices are prepared. For the healthiest options, choose foods described as steamed, boiled, grilled, or marinated. These options are going to be your lower fat options and allow you to better savor the true taste of the food you are eating! When you get your meal, take time to enjoy it and be mindful of how quickly you fill up. Left overs are never a bad thing!

Moderation in ALL things: I am a firm believer that you should never completely deny yourself a food you enjoy solely based on its nutrition value. This is mainly because research has found that avoidance of well-liked foods can result in overeating these same foods later, sabotaging your progress. Instead, I promote moderation. Fatty proteins commonly found on menus like heavily marbled steak or bacon are fine to get on occasion! Just choose 2 healthy sides to go with it. Try to minimize the amount of food you order described as fried, breaded, smothered, crispy, scampi style, creamed, or buttery when possible. What about pasta? I won’t lie, pasta dishes can be a real dozy. Most restaurants’ portion sizes overall are too big, but they are WAY too big for pasta. Pasta is not bad for you, but a serving of pasta is 1 cup cooked, about the size of your fist. I personally have never gotten just 1 cup of pasta at a restaurant. My solution is simple, choose a pasta dish with lots of vegetables and a lean protein, then take half of the meal to go or order a half portion to start. Lastly, there is nothing like a glass of wine or a cold beer after a hard week at work. Notice I say a glass and a beer though, one is moderation two is just adding unwanted, non-nutritional calories to your daily intake.

Summary: Going out to eat should be enjoyable and it does not have to mean sabotaging all the progress you have made with your diet! These tips should provide you a stress-free way to order healthy options while sitting back and enjoy yourself after a week of hard work! To review, here are the basics:

Best Options: Low fat: Foods described as boiled, steamed, grilled, or marinated Lean Protein: Chicken, turkey, fish (salmon), ham, lean beef, Canadian bacon Carbohydrates: Brown rice, quinoa, ½ servings size of whole grain pasta Fruits & Vegetables: Make ½ your plate steamed, grilled, roasted vegetables Hydration: Milk, water, sugar free seltzer water, fresh 100% juice

What to Eat in Moderation: High fat foods: Food described as fried, breaded, smothered, crispy, scampi style, creamed, buttery, or au gratin Fatty Proteins: Heavily marbled steak, bacon, and other red meat Carbohydrates: Large pasta dishes that do no incorporate protein or vegetables, especially alfredo or pesto Alcohol: Little to no nutritional value and adds unwanted calories

*Pro Tips*: 1) Try asking for sauces and dressings on the side, so you can control how much you use. 2) Start you meal off right with a colorful dark green side salad and vinaigrette to promote digestion and ensure you are filling up on healthier, low calorie options!

Have Questions?! Ask!

Grow Strong my Friends!

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