If you have high cholesterol levels or are trying to cut out unwanted calories from your diet, it can be hard to eat out. However, it is possible to eat out as well as eat healthy too! Today, many restaurants offer low calorie, low cholesterol delicious meals. And with our expert tips, you can make the right choice even when dining out.
When the doctor tells you that your cholesterol levels are high, or your gym trainer asks you to reduce your fat intake, the first thought that runs through your mind is, “How am I ever going to be able to eat out now?” But the simple fact of the matter is that staying away from your favourite restaurants will do nothing but doom your diet even before it starts! You don’t need to stay away from your favourite eating joints; all you really need to do is make healthier choices while ordering food. Choose foods that are low in saturated fats, cholesterol and trans fats and you will find that eating out is just the same!
Here are 10 tips that will help you choose heart healthy foods even when you are dining out.
1. Read the menu well:
Most restaurants today offer a variety of low fat and heart healthy foods. Read the menu well and if needed, ask the server to help you make the right decision. Don’t be shy to mention you are looking for a low calorie or heart healthy meal; this will only help the server understand your needs better so he/she can suggest the most suitable dishes.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask:
If you have gone through the menu and still don’t see low fat, low cholesterol section on the menu, don’t be afraid to ask the server to customize your food. Most good restaurants will be more than happy to alter preparations to ensure that you enjoy your dining experience at their restaurant. Of equal importance here are portion sizes. Most restaurants serving Indian or Italian cuisine will include huge portion sizes. For a low calorie or heart healthy diet, control your portion sizes. If the restaurant you have chosen offers bigger quantities, don’t be shy to ask for a ‘To-Go’ pack and take the remaining food home.
3. Terms to look out for:
When ordering for food, steer clear of entrees with the following terms – Au Gratin, Fried, Crispy, Pan Fried, Stuffed meats, Buttery and even Escalloped. Instead, look out for terms like Steamed, Broiled, Baked, Grilled, Roasted, Stir Fried and Poached. If you aren’t sure of how a certain dish is prepared, do ask the server so that you know if the dish contains any unwanted fats.
4. Look for the right oils:
If you are eating Italian or Continental, you can be rest assured that the chefs will be using Olive Oil or Canola Oil, both of which are monounsaturated heart friendly oils. But if you are dining at a restaurant that serves Indian cuisine or even Chinese, request that your food is prepared in Corn, Soya, Sunflower or even Mustard Oil (for Indian dishes). Also, in dishes that come accompanied with butter, request for margarine instead.
5. Steer clear of High Sodium:
Stay away from any food that is high in salt or sodium content. This means picked foods, cocktail sauces, soya sauce, fish sauce and teriyaki sauces. In fact, at a Pan Asian restaurant stay away from any dish that is fried or high on sauces. Instead, ask for steamed meats and raw salads. Also ask the server to ensure your meal isn’t made with too much salt and has no added MSG. A good tip is to have gravies, curries, sauces and dressings served on the side so that you can control the amount you want to add to your food.
6. Bread basket:
If your meal comes with a bread basket, request to be served only multigrain breads. Oat bread or whole wheat breads are great options. For a healthier option, skip the butter completely and dip the bread in olive oil for flavour.
7. Potatoes – Eat them or skip them?
You might not know this, but potatoes are much lower in calories as compared to pasta or even rice. Most people think of terms like ‘fattening and unhealthy’ when they think of potatoes. On the contrary, potatoes are actually very good for you, should you prepare them in the right fashion. They are a great source of Vitamin B, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Magnesium and boost your immune system. In fact, potatoes have no cholesterol or fat, and when eaten with the skin on they actually have great fibre content. So, go ahead and eat potatoes, but avoid French fries or potato wedges. Instead opt for baked potatoes or mashed potatoes.
8. Soups and starters:
When ordering for soup, stay away from soups that use corn flour for thickening. Choose soups which have a broth base – like the Minestrone or even the Gazpacho. Ask the server to recommend clear soups which will be healthier, and then request them to serve salt on the side, so that you can season to taste. For starters, avoid anything deep fried and stick to broiled, steamed or baked entrees.
9. Main Course:
If you are a vegetarian, make sure the chef doesn’t use oils with trans fat in your gravy. A safe option is to order for a vegetarian platter with healthy veggies like broccoli, beans, carrots and cucumbers along with cottage cheese. Veggie pasta and sizzlers are also good options. For non vegetarians, choose seafood, chicken or lean meats. If you eat red meat at all, request the chefs to trim all visible fat to reduce cholesterol content in your food. Also request the chef to remove any skin on chicken and to prepare your meal with olive oil as opposed to butter. Also, ask the server to substitute high fat foods in your order with low fat alternatives. For example, French fries can be substituted with steamed veggies. For dessert, it is best to stick to sorbets or just fresh fruits.
10. Salad tips:
Some people think that ordering salad is enough to make for a heart healthy choice. On the contrary, some salads come with fattening dressings, which add unwanted calories to your meal, many of which are coming from fats! So, when ordering salads, choose a balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar dressing. All vinaigrette dressings are better than creamy dressings like Caesar salad dressing. If you must have a creamier dressing, order it on the side so you can just dip a mouthful in the dressing and don’t eat more of it.
- Customized Fat Loss Diet – Easy & Healthy Tips for Dining Out (healthcareprogram.wordpress.com)
- How to stick to your weight loss plan even while eating out (welliamchallenge.wordpress.com)