So many Americans face a reality of take-out food and unhealthy options whenever we step through the door at the majority of the Restaurants in the United States. High Fructose Corn Syrup, Enriched flour, Partially Hydrogenated Oils, Saturated Fats, and Sugar Alcohols fill a high percentage of the options that we have when reading through the variety of menu’s from McDonald’s to Five Guys across the country. As a self proclaimed health food zealot I’m here to say that hope is not lost! There are many tips and tricks to beat the food industry at their own game and enjoy local dining with all of your friends and family.
The first thing I try to do whenever eating out is to prepare myself for what’s on the menu before I ever step foot in the door! With my ever present iPhone in hand I can look on nearly every Restaurant’s website to check on their menu and look through the nutritional information they offer. The majority of eateries today offer the nutritional breakdown of their options and are often very easy to locate and understand. I always look on the menu beforehand to start thinking about what I’m going to order before my willpower is transfixed by intoxicating smells and unbelievable food preparation! Don’t let those tempting smells lure you to make a bad choice! Looking at the menu and entering the restaurant with ammunition can help equip you with the extra bit of willpower and knowledge it will take to turn down the appetizers for a nice salad with your dressing on the side.
For the times when a lunch or dinner date may be spontaneous and does not allow you to check out the menu beforehand, try to stick to the one ingredient rule that I always fall back on. Look for menu items that have 1 ingredient or are complete whole foods. This will help you cut down on the processing and manipulating that tears down our food and essentially ruins its nutritional value. You also can make sure to ask to have your food prepared without the sauces or extra butter that they secretly apply during the cooking process to help the food taste more tantalizing! You can avoid a ton of extra unwanted calories and fat by leaving those accoutrements’ off your plate and enjoy the true essence of the food at its finest.
Another trick of the trade that works great for me is to have some common fallbacks in your mind that you know most restaurants often offer their patrons. Grilled Chicken, Salmon, Whitefish, and some salads are very healthy and loaded with vegetables and other foods that offer an immense amount of quality ingredients and nutrients! Also keep in mind that you are the CUSTOMER and you have the option to ask to have some features removed from your plate and can always ask to have a couple extra veggies added to your entree! The trick is to look objectively at the menu for what it truly is providing to you on a cellular level and understanding the positive aspects it’s providing your body versus the temporary satisfaction of satisfying those mental cravings!
Lastly, if you haven’t ever noticed the portions in this country have become truly outrageous! Plates are 40% bigger than they were 40-50 years ago and it’s increasing our waistlines ten-fold. As hard as it is sometimes I always try to only eat HALF of what the restaurant puts on my plate! For instance just last night we were out at a local restaurant for a friend’s 30th birthday and I knew exactly what I was ordering before I walked in the door! I had already looked at the menu, saw the nutritional content of the meal and had no issues with temptations whatsoever! I ordered the grilled salmon without the lemon butter sauce, steamed veggies plain, and a baked sweet potato plain as well! It was truly mouth watering and I had half a piece of grilled salmon and sweet potato for lunch today! I was able to have a great dinner with absolutely no guilt afterwards!
Being prepared is the name of the game when it comes to enjoying restaurant fare across the country! Even though the majority of menu items in America are awful for you there are options that you can take advantage of and taste great along the way! Educating yourself on what you can do to stay on track is half the battle, so the next time you are making plans with friends, do your homework and avoid the guilt and upset stomach that typically accompanies the tip for your wait staff!