For many, the last two weeks have likely gone by in a gastronomic flurry of sweets, red meat, and fried hors d'oeuvres, followed by vows to make 2012 the year when diet resolutions finally stick. Often, the biggest challenge to following through on eating right is eating out. There’s something about dining in restaurants that makes it easier to lose resolve.
There are an overwhelming number of choices in an environment where it's difficult to control the options, or the ingredients used to make your meal. It’s fine to indulge occasionally, but if you want to avoid that post-consumption regret, you have to enter each restaurant meal with a game plan.
Registered dietician Christine Tseng explains, “The biggest issue with eating out is portions. Restaurants tend to give more than a person can consume, and I think that is a challenge for many restaurant goers. Besides portions, restaurants tend to use ingredients that are higher in fat, therefore higher in calories, to provide the mouthful feel that many of us are accustomed to. We as consumers can only do our best at making healthful food choices when we dine out, but we cannot manipulate the ingredients that the chef chose to use.”
Nearly every restaurant has a web site these days, making it very simple to look at menus before going out and choose dining destinations with healthier options. Chain restaurants often list calorie and nutrition information on their web sites as well, making it even easier to make informed choices. Aside from these tools though, most of us are still baffled when it comes to navigating menus.
Here are 10 guidelines for eating healthy when eating out at restaurants no matter what cuisine they're serving, so you can make more nutritious choices in any dining situation, from Chinese to French.