There's an awful lot of pressure to pick the right option during lunch on a typical busy workday. Basically, everyone wants something that's quick, healthy, cheap, and still has some attempt at flavor. But, every once in awhile, we succumb to just grabbing whatever sounds good without giving it a whole lot of thought — such is the problem with grabbing lunch on the go.
So perhaps it's time to remove yourself from that situation; after all, it's much easier to make health-conscious choices when you're not in a time crunch. It may take a little planning the night before, but it's well worth it. We came up with a list of foods that may sound like healthy options when you're dining out, but are better made at home. The fixes are simple, and perhaps some may not necessarily be surprising, but every once in awhile, it's helpful just to have a reminder.
For example, what's wrong with the situation pictured above? There are several things wrong, actually, and the first thing is the most obvious. It's huge. Yes, it's obviously a bit of an exaggeration, and a portion like that is meant either for a gargantuan or an army of ravenous teenagers. But, it does illustrate one of the problems common to many popular and "healthy" dining choices: The portions are sometimes big enough to feed more than one person. Yes, it is a turkey sandwich, and yes, it does have plenty of vegetables, but it also has way too much cheese, and that bun should be whole-wheat. And slathered onto the back of that bun is probably a whole bunch of mayonnaise.
So we teamed up with a few nutrition experts to help untangle the mess. Laura Cipullo, R.D., CDE, runs her own nutrition consultation practice in New York City and takes a holistic approach to nutrition to help people get out of the "diet mentality." She offers advice to both adults and children.
Nicole Ring, R.D., is the director of restaurant and community partnerships at Healthy Dining, a service backed by a team of dietitians that helps people find healthy menu options when dining out. Ring was kind enough to help point us in the right direction when trying to figure out what popular dishes would be better made at home, along with what to add, and more importantly, what to leave out when doing so.
Last but not least, Tricia Williams, chef-nutritionist and founder of Food Matters NYC, marries the best of both worlds, with a sound restaurant background and a solid understanding of the principles of good nutrition. Williams holds a certification in holistic nutrition from Columbia Teacher's College and a Food Therapy Certification from the National Gourmet Institute, and is currently pursuing her masters in nutrition education at New York University.
We hope that you find their advice useful in making healthier choices.
Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.