Healthy Substitutions at 5 of Your Favorite Restaurants

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healthy fast food

One of the most difficult things about eating healthy is choosing healthy foods at restaurants. When you eat at home, it is much easier to make healthy choices, since you have control of your shopping list, what’s in your fridge, and what you are going to whip up for dinner.

But as soon as you open those swinging doors of your favorite restaurant, it is all to easy to lose your self-discipline. When you have dozens of choices at your fingertips, and you aren’t fully aware of what goes into making them so delicious, it is easy to turn a blind eye to what those mystery ingredients might be doing to your health.

There is no need for cheat days with this guide. If you are armed with some basic guidelines for healthy substitutions before you waltz into your favorite restaurant it will surely be much easier to make better choices.

Below are five common restaurant types and some easy switches you can make to keep making healthy food choices out of your home.

  1. Burger joints

If you aren’t a vegetarian or a vegan, it’s likely you have a favorite burger restaurant you like to go to. You know your taste buds never leave disappointed, but your body might be singing a different tune. Burgers patties are high in saturated fat, and often have several chemical preservatives that rack up the sodium. The sauces are often high in refined sugar, fructose, or saturated fat, and the larger than life burger buns deliver tons of refined carbs.

Not to mention the French fries and milkshakes deliver tons of extra calories through saturated and trans-fat, refined carbohydrates as well. Eating these sorts of foods regularly can lead to coronary heart disease, weight gain, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

Stay away from:

  • BBQ, ketchup, creamy and sweet and sour sauces
  • Processed cheese
  • Traditional French fries
  • White bread
  • Beef burgers

Eat this instead:

  • Mustard
  • Fresh cheese or no cheese
  • Baked sweet potato fries or salad
  • Whole wheat or pumpernickel bread
  • Turkey, eggplant or vegetarian burger patties

 

  1. Seafood restaurants

In principle, seafood is quite healthy for you. Most types of seafood are heart healthy and fight inflammation, as they are low in cholesterol and high in Omega-3 fatty acids. However, dips, sides, and forms of cooking could be the downfall of a potentially healthy meal.

Stay away from:

  • Butter sauces and tartar sauce
  • Seafood pastas
  • Fried fish, lobster and shrimp
  • Buttered bread
  • White rice sides

Eat this instead

  • Lemon wedge instead of dips
  • Baked seafood or soup options
  • Steamed or sautéed vegetables on the side
  • Whole wheat crackers
  • Wild rice or quinoa

 

  1. BBQs and Steak houses

Steak houses are the epitome of “cheat day” for some. However, you can go out to a steak house and still make healthy choices. Remember that too much red meat may shorten your lifespan since it is connected to serious illnesses like heart disease and cancer.

You might need to have a little more self-discipline here, but there are still very delicious choices that will keep your body happy, too.

Stay away from

  • Red meats
  • Pasta salads
  • French fries
  • Sodas and alcoholic beverages

Eat this instead:

  • Grilled chicken or fish
  • Grilled vegetables
  • Wild rice, brown rice, or quinoa
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Unsweetened iced tea

 

  1. Coffee shops

 

Coffee shops are the go-to meeting places for many. You order a nice seasonal beverage and a pastry of some sort to chat away. Unfortunately, just the beverage and the pastry can rack up over 1000 calories and pass your daily recommendation of fat and added sugar.

Here are some quick switches:

Stay away from:

  • Whipped cream
  • Syrups
  • Sweet pastries
  • Cookies
  • Juices

Eat this instead:

  • Coffee, unsweetened, beverages including cappuccinos and lattes made with low fat milk or milk substitute of your choice
  • Sandwiches or wraps made with whole-wheat or gluten-free bread or tortillas (no mayo)
  • If you have a craving for something sweet, look for sugar-free options
  • Smoothies, but make sure they are made with real fruit and not syrups

 

  1. Pizza joints

Believe it or not, it is possible to make healthier choices at some pizza places. A lot of restaurants have started to offer healthier options as people start to become more scrupulous about what they are putting into their bodies. The problem isn’t so much the ingredients in themselves (as long as you aren’t sensitive to dairy or gluten), but rather the quantities of pizza we tend to eat. In addition to sticking to eating one to two slices of pizza, here are healthier switches you can make:

Stay away from

  • Deep dish or traditional crusts
  • Cheese-filled crust
  • Extra cheese
  • Meat toppings
  • Sodas

Eat this instead:

  • Thin-crust pizza
  • Light cheese
  • Veggie toppings
  • Iced tea, no sugar
  • Water

If you are accustomed to eating more of some things than you should, it is likely these switches won’t seem all that easy to you. If you lead a busy life with so much junk food out there, the easy choice is to make unhealthy choices. Remember that making healthy eating choices is a lifestyle commitment. If you are in the right mentality to stick to an eating pattern that will promote your health in and out of the home, you will be on the right track to seeing significant positive changes in your body.

 

 

Image sources:

http://www.afcent.af.mil/Units/380th-Air-Expeditionary-Wing/Commentaries/Display/Article/446017/healthy-eating-its-your-choice/

https://www.maxpixel.net/Fish-Diet-Steam-Vegetables-Legumes-1983069

https://www.maxpixel.net/Business-Partners-Meeting-Office-Cooperation-336368

 

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