How to Eat Out
16 September 2015
How To EAT OUT
Staying healthy when your lifestyle requires you to eat out a lot, like mine does, can be pretty tricky. When eating out you have the least control over what you eat, neither portion nor preparation. The only thing you can basically do is to trust the chef, or the informations of staff. Often the staff is so busy that I feel bad asking them a load of questions. Having had my first job in service aswell, I know what it is like. Often they do not even know, and just make up something instead of saying ‘I don’t know.’ I once asked a waitress in Mykonos wether the fish would come grilled or fried. She ensured me that it would be grilled. I received a sashimi.
Studies showed that eating out adds an estimated 200 calories per day. That adds up to 1400 calories a week and about one pound every two weeks! But that doesn’t mean you need to skip eating out completely.
Follow the simple guidelines below and you’ll be set — no matter where the night takes you.
General Preparation Guidelines:
The way food is prepared is more substantially affecting its health factor than the actual food itself. Any raw ingredient is a good ingredient - be it wheat, vegetables, fish or meats. Its the frying & use of heavy cream sauces and oils which makes them 'unhealthy' and high calory.
So when ordering anything try to keep to the leanest preparation method possible (1 is leanest, 6 is the fattiest):
1. Raw 2. Grilled 3. Steamed 4. Baked/Roasted 5. Panfried 6. Deepfried
This applies to orders of Meat, Fish, Vegetables as well as Rice (steamed white rice, or fried rice), Noodles, Potatoes (boiled potatoes, oven potatoes, french fries).
Sometimes Menu's do not state how something is prepared. Here are some tipps to find out: Anything that says 'crunchy/crispy' is most likely fried - double check with the server. Having a 'crunchy asparagus tempura' is hardly any better than having a french fry. So don't let yourself be fooled into thinking you are having a healthy veggie side dish. If in doubt - try to ask the waitor. The answer might not be accurate, but its better than a wild guess.
Bread and Butter
At most restaurants, the first thing placed on the table is a basket of bread with butter. What looks like a free treat, is really just a bunch of empty calories. There are around 150-200 calories in most restaurant bread rolls, not to mention 50 calories for every ½ tablespoon of butter. Its recommendable to have the Bread removed right to begin with to avoid facing the temptation all the way through dinner. You are better off saving your appetite for your dinner.
Ordering a salad is always the healthiest choice, right? Not necessarily. Most tasty salads feature a protein (chicken, shrimp), multiple fats (think nuts, cheese, or eggs), and plenty of sugar (for example, dried fruits). Not to mention salad dressings, most of which are full of fat and sugar. If you order a salad, try to choose one with only one non-veggie topping — for example, chicken or nuts or cheese, but not all three. Get the dressing on the side or ask for a small side of olive oil and vinegar. That way you can decide how much to put on.
Cream sauces are delicious diet destructors, especially with the large portions sizes at restaurants. One serving of Bearnaise sauce has 250 calories and 97 grams of fat! Add that to the chicken or steak it’s topping and you could have a 1000 calorie dish. If you have your heart set on a creamy dish, ask for the sauce on the side and use it sparingly as a dip. Same goes for the Soups - I recommend to always ask if they are made with cream. If they are - a little soup can be quite a heavyweight.
More Veggies Please!
Side dishes, like mashed potatoes, fries, and mac and cheese can often be heavy and greasy. If your dish comes with veggies, ask for a double order to get extra filling with little calories. You can also sub an unhealthy side item for a side salad instead. When having Vegetable Side dishes ask for them to be steamed, boiled or grilled - ask for them plain (without extra oil on top, or soaked in butter). Fats are an intensifier of flavours - they make food taste better. In the aim of trying to please their guests tastes restaurants like to be over ambitious with using fats and sugars. They use more fat and sugars than is healthy for us - so its important to always ask for oils/fats to be reduced where possible. Trust me - I spent enough time in kitchens to ensure you that in NO WAY will you ever be consuming too little fat when eating in any 'normal' restaurant! Its just a matter of damage control really.
Choose your Cut
Love red meat? You’re not alone. Hamburgers and steak are delicious but they are a fattier cut of meat. If weight loss is your goal, your best option would be to order a leaner meat, like chicken or pork. But nothing is off limits so if you’ve got the itch, go ahead and get red meat. If it’s steak, get a leaner cut like filet and try not to eat more than 180g, which clocks in at 454 calories. If you’re ordering a burger, keep it classic — lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles but no cheese, bacon, or fried onions. The healthiest Option you can take, my favourite, is to order rare or raw meats - like beef tartar, carpaccio, or medium rare filet: rare meat takes longer to digest and will keep you fuller longer than well cooked meat.
Go for Fish
Why not take the opportunity of eating out to eat a healthy grilled fish. Paired with steamed or grilled vegetables its one of the healthiest dishes you can have. Low fat, high in lean proteins and lots of fibre. Make sure your vegetables include something starky like peas or carrots - so that you get some healthy carbs aswell. Just like with the meat its best to order the fish raw (Sashimi, Ceviche pictured below), steamed or grilled. Avoid pan fried if possible, and of course deep fried is a total no-go.
Beat your Sweet Tooth
Its okay to indulge in sweet things every now and then. I love to have a sweet snack in the afternoon for example. Or even a sweet breakfast (pancakes are my favourite since childhood!) - but when eating out, especially when eating out a lot, developing that habit of having dessert really should be avoided. IF you do feel that you have not had enough to eat and still need something sweet to eat, try to opt for raw cut fruit or alternatively - sorbet. Marinated fruit carpaccios are also a good choice. Really skip that warm chocolate cake - like REALLY SKIP IT.
I don't want to take the fun out of eating out - these are just suggestions. Cheatmeals every once in a while are ok. But if you’re trying to lose weight and you find yourself constantly out to eat, try some of these suggestions to help you stick with your weight loss goals. And remember, restaurants and their staffs are in the business of serving you. Don’t feel like you’re being a nuisance for customizing your order. Don’t you go out to enjoy a delicious meal you actually want, after all? Do what makes you feel comfortable — be sure to enjoy yourself.