Eating Out: A Dietary Disaster?
My diet is pretty healthy as long as I eat at home and cook for myself. But because my job involves travel, I eat out a lot. Sometimes, fast-food restaurants are the only ones available. Any suggestions for healthy alternatives?
I sympathize because I travel a lot, too. I know that finding nutritious and appealing restaurant food isn't always easy. By and large, fast-food restaurants tend to serve meals which are high in fat and calories. Some now offer a few lower-fat options -- Subway, for example, offers a decent turkey breast sandwich (273 calories, 4 grams of fat). In general, look for poultry instead of red meat, and salads with low-fat dressings. Try to avoid fried foods (McDonald's Chicken McNuggets contain 26 grams of fat, more than the 21 grams you would get with a Quarter Pounder). But it's best if you can avoid these types of restaurants altogether.
Fortunately, you now have a better shot at a healthy meal in many sit-down restaurants. I can usually get a delicious meal of sushi at Japanese restaurants, vegetarian appetizers made with olive oil at Middle Eastern and Greek restaurants, pasta with marinara sauce and a good salad at Italian restaurants, and stir-fried vegetables and tofu at Chinese ones. I often eat fish in good restaurants when I travel, because the quality of fish is better than what I can buy to cook at home. Here are some other tips for avoiding the pitfalls of restaurant dining:
When portions are large, eat half; split the entrée with your dining companions, take home what you can't finish, or just leave it.
Avoid buffets -- they're an inducement to over-eating.
Don't automatically eat the bread that's placed on the table (particularly if it is ordinary, high-glycemic-index white bread or rolls). Ask the waiter to take it away if you're too tempted. If you are lucky enough to be served whole grain, high-quality bread, and have to put fat on it, ask for extra virgin olive oil and pass on the butter.
Ask for salad dressing or sauces on the side so you can limit the amount you use. Choose olive oil vinaigrettes whenever possible, or ask for olive oil and vinegar and lemon.
Avoid cream-based soups and fried foods.
Ask for grilled or broiled fish that's prepared without butter.
Ask that vegetables be steamed or prepared with olive oil instead of butter.
Order bottled water if the water you're served tastes like chlorine.
If you order a rich dessert, try to eat only a few bites instead of the whole thing.
And speaking of being on the road, I'll be on my book tour in March and April. I'd love to meet you in person. Please check out my book tour schedule -- I may be coming to your hometown