Thursday, August 18, 2011

Eating Out: The "Healthy" Way

Eating out can be challenging when one wants to do so while not sabotaging their healthy ways.  It's for this reason that I make the majority of my meals.  But that can get boring, mountainous and some days you just don't feel like cooking!

Then there are the days when your friends/co-workers say, "lets go to lunch!"  You can't resist because sometimes you need a break and you crave social interaction (totally understandable).

So when these times kick in for me, I do two things:
  1. Demand to know where we are going beforehand (usually people just let me pick, it's easier)
  2. Check out the menu for said destination to determine my order based on nutrition info and not menu description
When a non-chain, local restaurant is chosen (my fav), number two is no longer an option.  So, I hit the internet and do a Google search for the healthiest things to eat for that certain cuisine.  I just so happened to run across a nice little list from BeachBody (P90-X), so I thought I'd share it with you.

The Hoff

Reposted courtesy of BeachBody:


Get steamed: Order steamed rice, not fried, and go with brown rice if they have it—it has extra fiber.

Veg out: Look for the dishes that are mostly vegetables and are steamed rather than fried. If you order dishes like beef and broccoli, ask them for extra broccoli.

Soup it up: Egg-drop, wonton, and hot-and-sour soups are good low-cal, low-fat options (although they usually have plenty of sodium, so no extra soy sauce!). Fill up on some soup and put away half your entrée for later.

Grease: Stay away from deep-fried dishes like egg rolls, crispy orange chicken, General Tso's chicken, sweet-and-sour pork, etc.

Lay off the sauce: Watch out for sauces made with corn syrup or oil. Request low sauce or no sauce. An order of kung pao chicken seems healthy but it's sautéed in enough oil that it can have up to 76 grams of fat—more than an entire day's worth. If possible, ask how it's prepared.

Pass up the salt: Ask for low-salt options. Don't use the full-sodium soy sauce packets that come with your meal. Instead, invest in your own bottle of low-sodium soy sauce. Also, make sure your restaurant is one of the many that no longer use monosodium glutamate (MSG) in their dishes.

Switch it up: For dinner combos, see if you can substitute healthier options for the normal items. For example, at my Panda Express®, they'll give me an extra serving of steamed vegetables instead of the side of starchy chow mein or fried rice that it typically comes with.


More veggies: Load up on veggie toppings like peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, fresh garlic, jalapeños, etc.

Less fat and/or less cheese: Ask for low-fat cheese, or ask them to use half the cheese.

Defeat the meat: Try to stay away from fatty meat toppings like pepperoni, meatballs, and sausage. Instead, try leaner options like Canadian bacon, chicken, or shrimp.

Bust the crust: Not all pizzas are created equal, and neither are their crusts. Most pizza chains list nutrition info on their Web sites. So make sure you take a look before ordering to ensure the smartest choice.


Lighten up:
Many of the same tips for Chinese food apply to Thai food as well. Try to get steamed brown rice and lots of vegetables and stay away from heavy sauces and high-sodium dishes.

Don't get saucy: Satay is a good option, but try not to use too much of the peanut dipping sauce, if any; that's where your calories will start to add up.

Don't go (coco)nuts: Watch the coconut milk. It's delicious, but usually extremely fattening. Try to look for dishes flavored with ginger, citrus, curry, or chilies instead. Or ask if they can prepare your dish with low-fat coconut milk.

Hold the milk: Thai restaurants offer a lot of delicious low-fat soups that you can fill up on. They also have some soups that are high in fat because of coconut milk. Try and order soups that don't include it. And as with all soups, keep an eye on the sodium.

Green and lean: Thai cuisine includes many salads that are a meal in themselves, such as Yum Nuah (beef salad) or Pla Goong (grilled shrimp salad). Many of these have simple lime juice dressings that are low in fat. But, as with American salads, caveat emptor, and ask the restaurant what's in the dressing.

Go fish (or tofu): Check out the fish and tofu options. Even more than their Chinese counterparts, Thai restaurants have lots of dishes that feature seafood and tofu. And if you don't care for either, the Thai spices might just help you overcome your aversion.

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