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.
- 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:
- Fresh cheese or no cheese
- Baked sweet potato fries or salad
- Whole wheat or pumpernickel bread
- Turkey, eggplant or vegetarian burger patties
- 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
- 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.