Eating Out The Healthy Way

November 4, 2010

Eating Out The Healthy Way

If you want to dine out without sacrificing your health or weight-loss progress, you need to learn to speed read a menu to recognise figure-friendly nutritious food.

* To protect your health, the Heart Foundation of Australia recommends you aim to eat out (or buy takeaway) on no more than one night a week.
* Research suggests Australians now eat 2.7 million meals at large fast-food restaurants every day and $1 in every $3 we spend on food is on meals prepared outside our homes.

* Team a wrap or vegie burger with a smoothie or yoghurt whip and the kilojoules will quickly add up to levels not far behind those of a burger and small fries.

* When people eat at restaurants they consider to be healthy they are more likely to order additional food and underestimate their calorie intake.

* The Vietnamese or Japanese takeaway that you think is a healthier choice for tonight’s meal may be as high in damaging fats as fish and chips if you don’t order from the menu carefully.

Restaurant Rules

Heading off for a relaxing evening of food, wine and conversation with friends? Make sure you take your willpower as well as your wallet. When eating with a group, you linger longer at the table than you do at home, so you’re more likely to indulge in dessert or a second cafe latte.

That doesn’t mean you should become a hermit and swear off social dinners. Nor do you need to become a culinary bore who makes everyone feel guilty by only ever ordering a salad or soup. You can eat out without blowing out if you pay attention to the way your meal is prepared and improve your nutritional savvy so your food choices are smarter.


* Opt for meals on the menu that are cooked using low-fat methods, such as grilling or stirfrying.

* Ask for sauces and dressings to be served on the side so you can control how much of them you eat.

* Choose lean meats and ask for a double serve of vegetables or salad so you don’t have room for dessert.

* If possible, order a child-sized meal with a side salad.

* Ask for your plate to be removed when you’re full so you don’t keep picking at the leftovers.

* Choose two entrees (eg soup and salad) rather than a main course or order three courses but don’t eat the whole serve.

* Order a sorbet for dessert.

Quick Tip

Eating on the run? Then head for a sushi bar — the service is just as quick as in a fast-food outlet but the food is much better quality. The vinegar in the rice mix keeps the glycaemic index of sushi low despite its rice content and, as long as you avoid fatty fillings like fried tempura prawn, this is a healthy low-calorie takeaway option.

Café Break

You’re meeting friends for a coffee and catch-up and everyone is ordering a sweet indulgence to go with their caffeine hit. You don’t want to make anyone else self-conscious but this is the fourth time you’ve done coffee this week. How do you look after your waistline without making your friends feel guilty?


* Choose fruit salad and yoghurt or, if that’s not on the menu, order an Italian biscuit.

* Ask if anyone at your table would like to go halves in a piece of cake — but skip the cream and icecream.

* Order something on the small side such as a gluten-free friand and eat only half.

* Tell friends you haven’t yet had lunch and order a salad, wrap or sandwich instead of something sweet.

Do you make healthy choices when you eat out or do you prefer to splurge once or twice a week?

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