Advise Me

Eating Out? Have Your Cake And Eat It Too

I am a terrible cook. So terrible, I once burned a pot of water. True story.

My lack of culinary skills means when my husband doesn’t feel like cooking, we go out for dinner.

To help make smarter choices when eating out, I spoke with clinical dietitian, Whitney Temple, at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson. And I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how reasonable and flexible her eating healthy tips are.

Think Portion Control

Number one for Temple is portion control. Portion sizes at restaurants seem to always be increasing, so some easy things to try are:

  • Ask for a to-go box immediately, then put half the meal in the container and enjoy it later
  • Choose a kids’ meal if eating at a fast food restaurant – oftentimes the portions are smaller and the side choices are healthier
  • Order one meal for two people and share; or order an appetizer and side salad for your meal
  • Request dressings on the side – and here’s a great tip: dip your fork into the dressing for each bite of salad rather than pouring the dressing on top
  • Try replicating portion sizes from home while you’re eating out

Plan Ahead

“A little planning ahead can make a big difference,” shares Temple. She recommends that if you’re planning to eat out at some point in the day to plan your other meals accordingly: going out for burgers later, eat a smaller lunch. And if there’s a menu available online, take a look in advance so you can have a game plan.

Look for Keywords

When perusing the menu, avoid words like “crispy,” “rich” and “smothered.” Instead, opt for items with “steamed,” “broiled,” “baked” or “grilled.” These items suggest a lower-fat cooking method and are usually the smarter choice.

Leave Room for Dessert

And here’s the best part: “You can fit dessert into a healthy diet,” Temple says. Try fruits or berries as a dessert, or if you’re craving something more rich, share it.

Temple stresses, if you overeat or pick fried over baked, to not be too hard on yourself. “If you make a mistake, it’s okay; get back to your goals at your next meal or on the next day,” she says.