Food Networks

How to make healthy food choices while eating out

In today’s fast paced world where both men and women head out for work, there is hardly enough time to prepare all meals at home. A couple of decades back, eating out used to be only on selected occasions like birthdays, anniversaries or weddings. However, nowadays we eat out almost 3 to 4 times a week, be it just for a cup of tea with our colleagues or going for team lunches or weekend dinners with families; eating out is no longer a special event. But with all the good things, there are some drawbacks as well.
Dr. Meghana Pasi, Nutrition Consultant, MyThali – Arogya World says, “Restaurant food is often loaded with fats, salt, sugar, spices and other additives. Over consumption of such food over a continued period of time can increase the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, hypertension, cardiac disorders, cancer and diabetes. Further, we are unaware of the quality of ingredients used and the hygiene practices adopted during food preparation, which if poor can lead to food borne illnesses. Another disadvantage is that we are often unable to control the portion size of the food ordered and therefore tend to overeat.”

Does that mean that we stop eating out completely?

“Well, No! “If we are a little mindful about what foods to order while eating out then we can avoid illnesses to a larger extent,” says Dr. Pasi.

Here are a few ways to make healthier choices:

“Try to include all food groups (cereals, grains, pulses, eggs, meat, fish, dairy products, vegetables and oils) on the plate in the right portion sizes. Make your plate a balanced meal. For eg. If you are ordering a wrap then take a chicken wrap or paneer wrap which has some vegetables added to it and as an accompaniment take some buttermilk or lassi or a shake. This will make a simple wrap meal into a complete balanced meal,” advises Dr. Pasi.
If you prefer a non-veg dish, then go for lean meats like chicken. Fish is the healthiest option though.
Go for steamed, sauteed or grilled vegetables in place of vegetables with creamy gravies which are high in calories and fats.
If you eat out thrice a week then take some juice once, second time go for some healthy soup and if at all required then take alcohol.
Dr. Pais says, “Many times our body craves sweet and fried foods. This could also be because of dehydration. Hence, drink enough water to stay hydrated to avoid such cravings at a restaurant.”
Have a fruit or some light snacks at home before you head to a restaurant to avoid overeating there.
Choose whole grain versions of pasta and breads instead of refined wheat options.
“Always order salads and soups at the beginning. Vegetables have a lot of fiber which helps in giving a satiety feeling. This will stop you from eating more fried and sweet foods at the main course,” says Dr. Pasi.
Before you head to a restaurant, look at the online menu and decide on what you will order. This helps to avoid ordering more food.
Also, when you are in a group, always order first. This will help to avoid other choices that influence yours.
“Further, if the portion size is large, try to share your meal with our friends or family or take the leftover portion home. “Don’t push yourself to finish everything that is ordered,” advises Dr. Pasi.