Thursday, March 8, 2012

Restaurant Survival Guide! (Hint: Just Eat Veggies)

Eating in restaurants can be stressful when you're trying to lose or maintain your weight. Even when a menu advertises that something is "heart healthy," or "on the lighter side," I can't help but turn into a cynic. After all, restaurant food is loaded with fat so saying something is on the "lighter side" is a pretty relative term. 

That's why it pays off to be uber-practical when you're at a restaurant. This is not the time to splurge! Save splurges for when you prepare something for yourself that you know is going to be worth it, not for cheap restaurant food that is usually mass-produced and filled with sodium. When I visit a restaurant, I keep it really simple and usually just eat vegetables.

Most places can manage to not screw up a bowl of vegetables!

I had the lovely treat of having lunch with two of my best friends this week, and we headed to Jason's Deli, where I had never been before. They have a salad bar, which made me super happy because at a salad bar I can control what I eat. I ordered myself a plate (and checked out using their cool salad bar kiosk) and added on a side of roasted turkey. (Note: Jason's Deli has nutritional info on their website so you can log your meal but the info listed for the turkey is for a half portion. But they don't give you a half portion, do they? Double it if you order the turkey for your salad.)

Anywho, I headed to the salad bar and loaded up on the fresh stuff: spinach, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, cauliflower, peppers, red onions, and thanks to the great idea of my friend, some really pretty green peas. A nice big bowl of happiness!

Then I whipped out my secret weapon: a tablespoon from home. I keep a tablespoon in my purse so when I am eating out I can measure out my salad dressing either from the salad bar or from the "on the side" cup it comes in. In this case, I scooped out one tablespoon of light honey mustard dressing. It was actually too much dressing and I could have done with less but once it was on, there was no turning back. 

Once I added my turkey, I had myself a very nice lunch.

Ordering off the menu is the same deal: just ask for a salad without the meat or cheese. Just the veggies. No dried fruit, toasted almonds, gorgonzola crumbles, or tortilla strips. That translates to sugar, sugar, fat, fat. Look friends, this is not your last meal. It's lunch. You can deal.

Healthy Heather's quick tips for translating a menu:
1. The more ingredients menu item boasts, the more calories it has. If the description goes on and on with all the yummy stuff in the meal, cha-ching cha-ching cha-ching. (Not the good kind of cha-ching, either.) Keep it simple and stick with veggies and lean protein.

2Fat makes food taste yummy, and restaurants want their food to be super yummy so you'll come back and get more more more, so they put in a lot of fat. Remember, they're a business, not your friend. Keep it simple and stick with veggies and lean protein. Hmm, have I heard that somewhere before?

3. Bring a measuring spoon and USE IT. No one has to see you, and if they do then who cares? Since when is caring enough about your health to manage your food portions something to be ashamed of? They're the ones who should feel bad for treating their bodies like a garbage dump. Okay, that was kind of mean, but seriously, it's true.

Get out there and get healthy today, even if you have to pack your own utensils!

1 comment:

Michelle said...

You are such an inspiration every day. Really. And I'm finding it much more enjoyable to read your blog now that I'm eating clean consistently - less guilt ;) Because you speak the truth and sometimes the truth hurts. Thanks for another great post Heather!