Dining out the healthy way
Whether you’re sitting down to a quick brunch or a multi-course dinner at a restaurant, navigating the menu can be a challenge-especially if you’re trying to eat healthy. But with a few dining-out secrets, you don’t have to miss out on a meal at your favourite spot.
“Sometimes people avoid restaurants when they’re watching their weight and that doesn’t need to happen,” says Rose Reisman, a nutritional consultant and author of Rose Reisman’s Family Favourites, who developed a healthy eating menu for the Pickle Barrel chain of restaurants in Ontario. “You should be able to eat out every day and still be able to watch your weight.” Read on to find out how to dine out with your health in mind.
Make the right choice
“The fancier the restaurant you go to, the less you get, which is better for you,” says Reisman. “Standard Italian restaurants or American restaurants are usually giving you double to triple the protein and carbs you need. Your plate should be 50 percent vegetables, 25 percent protein and 25 percent grains.” When it comes to ethnic food, Japanese, Thai, Greek and Indian restaurants are often easier on the waistline than Mexican, Chinese or Italian establishments because they feature grilled meats, non-fried options such as fresh spring rolls and guilt-free dips like Tzatziki. You’ll also find healthy sushi rolls at Japanese establishments-but always pick low-sodium soy sauce to dip your rolls in.
Learn the lingo
Gina Sunderland, a registered dietician in Winnipeg, advises clients to scan the menu for loaded words such as “pan-fried,” “crispy,” “dipped,” “scalloped,” “gratin,” and “alfredo.” “Dishes with those words have a lot of hidden fat and sodium in there,” she says. Instead, green light orders with words such as “grilled,” “steamed” and “baked.” “And I always tell people to read through the entire menu, rather than just settling on your favourite item right away. Explore the menu to see what your options are,” says Sunderland.