Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dining Out Healthy

For a casual sit-down lunch the other day, my brother treated me to grub at Rudy's, a pub and restaurant in the Yale University area. Rudy's is notorious for their brews and Belgian frites that come with a variety of dipping sauces, including my favourite: maple sriracha. It's a great place to meet up with some friends, have a few drinks (if you're of age), and to chow down on fresh, juicy burgers. No need for setting up the table, no kitchen accidents and of course, no dishes to clean up. I love dining out, but it tends to lead me astray from my healthy eating habits. At home, I'm able to moderate should-eats and shouldn't-eats. At a restaurant, you never know what exactly is making up your oh-so delicious meal. Whether it's frozen ingredients, unhealthy oils or just nasty stuff that shouldn't be mentioned, here are some of my tips to eating well while eating out.

ONE: Share, share share!

Mummy always told you to share! If you and your dining partner(s) know that you won't be able to each finish a full entree, consider sharing one. Especially if there's more than one course and the portions are large. Not only will you save your stomach from over feeding, but sharing is also environmentally friendly and wallet friendly! You'll be able to cut the bill in half while preventing the need for a box to take the leftovers home. If you're a bit hungrier, opt for sharing an appetizer instead, like my brother and I did with the calamari. That way, you'll be able to save room for the main course and most importantly, dessert!

TWO: Eat those veggies

No, those leafy greens are not just for decoration! Eating fresh vegetables will balance out the carbohydrates and the fats that you are consuming. As I was munching down on some fried calamari, I had an equal helping of the fresh arugula to make sure I was getting all of the nutrients and to even out the fats. The fiber in the veggies also help to boosts your digestive health. The next time you see some cucumbers, a slice of tomato or a side salad, don't leave them untouched! Stay away from those creamy dressings though. Those sly ninjas are packed with unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients, despite the calories.

THREE: Say good-bye to those unneeded carbs!

Who doesn't like french fries? I could literally eat a whole tray of them. However, those bad boys (and chips!) are the ones you need to cut out. "But the greasy goodness!" you say. No. Deep fried sticks of carbohydrates soaked in oil and salt; there's obviously nothing healthy about them. The next time you're dying for fast food, get the sandwich only and a bottle of water. Why pay for more unhealthy add-ons such as a 'healthy' diet coke and fries? Save those calories for something more worthwhile. Like chocolate or ice cream. If you must cave into those evil fried potatoes, go for a small size. Or, do what I did and give your hungry friend half of yours. In the end, limiting yourself will keep your body happy, healthy and less sluggish.

FOUR: Finger food? Nuh-uh

Before you dig into those delicious fries and burgers with your hands, consider using your utensils. By using a fork and knife, you will pace yourself after each bite. Think about it: you have to pick up your fork and knife, cut a small piece, take a bite, and wait until you've swallowed to dive into your next piece. By eating slower and taking smaller bites, you will feel fuller than after you scarf down the whole plate in a few minutes. Our brain takes on average 20 minutes to register hunger. Eating slower will also aid digestion as you will be chewing your food more. Not only can you do this with burgers and sandwiches, but also with pizza, fruit, and other foods that can be eaten with a fork and knife.

FIVE: The best, and the worst

I dislike eating bland, flavourless food, so naturally sauces are something I love. Rudy's has a variety of unique dipping sauces to go along with their frites. My favourite is the sweet and spicy maple sriracha (Vermont maple syrup, sriracha and mayo). As good as it is, sauces and dressings are culprits you should limit, or even take out of your diet completely. Sure, they may be labeled as a low calorie dressings, but what's inside of it? Many of them are packed with sodium, artificial flavourings and unhealthy oils such as canola oil and vegetable oil. If you're eating a salad, try a balsamic vinaigrette with olive oil, lemon juice, or other natural dressings instead of creamy ranch and oily Italian. Or, if you have to go with the less healthy options, don't douse your salad in it. Instead add a bit so that not all of your leaves are coated in dressing.

Sometimes, it's really hard to fight those cravings. It's perfectly alright to let yourself give in! However, you cannot let yourself give in all of the time. Know your limits and do not overindulge. These tips took a while to become a habit for me, so just try your best! You don't need to cut out everything unhealthy out of your diet as long as you take it in small quantities, in moderation and balance it out. 

What are your tips for eating well while eating out?

Cheers to healthy eating!

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