How often do you go out to eat?

If you’re not sure, try coming up with a list of what you’ve eaten for the past week…breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

If your diet looks anything like the typical American’s, you probably hit fast food, the drive-thru, or a sit-down restaurant at least once in the past week.

Sometimes it just makes sense to go out to eat. You know…you’re wrapping up the work day when you realize you haven’t been grocery shopping in a while. A group of friends organize an impromptu night out. You’re short on time. You forget to pack your lunch. Or maybe you’ve got a date or special celebration.

There’s nothing wrong with going out to eat once in a while. But before you place your next order, there’s a few things you need to know:

Munch on this dining-out data

6 tips for eating healthier at restaurants

 So how do you navigate the restaurant experience without destroying your diet? Here’s what the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends:

  1. Drink water. It’s usually free and contains zero calories, unlike sugary drinks or alcohol that contain 200 calories or more.
  2. Order a salad. Choose vinaigrette dressing over creamy dressings. And load up on leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumber, and other vegetables. It’s low in calories, high in nutrients, and will help you feel full.
  3. Go halfsies. Ask for a to-go box when you place your order. When you food arrives save half your meal for tomorrow. If you’re dining out with someone else, split the meal…and the bill.
  4. Skip the buffet. Why? It’s hard to judge portion sizes. It’s easy to go back for seconds, thirds, and desserts. And it’s a recipe for eating too many calories.
  5. Get nutritional information. Chain restaurants are required to publish nutritional information for everything on the menu. Most chain restaurants also publish this information online. How many calories are in that meal? Find out before you order. The average adult only needs about 1,500 to 2,500 calories per day.
  6. Track your food. Use an app like My Fitness Pal to keep track of calories and macro-nutrients (proteins, fats, and carbs). Set a daily calorie goal to help you with weight management. And upload your data to the FitLyfe platform with Apple Health.

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