Eating out can present some challenges when it comes to heart health and weight management—extreme portions and multiple courses, high fat and/or sodium content, feeling the need to overeat in order to get your money’s worth. Keep these tips in mind as you treat yourself to a nice restaurant meal this Valentine’s Day:
1. Choose the restaurant wisely
- Avoid buffets and all-you-can-eat options.
- Choose restaurants that offer low-fat or calorie-controlled menu items.
2. Avoid overeating
- Eat a light snack, such as a small piece of fruit or some vegetables, to take the edge off your hunger before you arrive at the restaurant.
- Drink lots of water. Sipping water throughout the meal can help you eat less and avoid extra calories from sugary or alcoholic beverages.
- Don’t fill up on appetizers or the breadbasket. After choosing one piece of bread, ask that the breadbasket be removed from the table.
- Share your meal or ask for a to-go box at the beginning of your meal and box half of it up.
3. Be familiar with cooking terms
- Foods that are described as steamed, garden fresh, broiled, roasted, poached, dry broiled, lean are usually low-fat options.
- Foods that are described as buttered, creamed, au gratin, in cheese sauce, sautéed, fried, pan-fried, crispy, breaded, stuffed, casserole, prime, or hash are usually high in fat.
4. Ask questions
- Ask that your food be prepared without salt.
- Ask for condiments, sauces, and dressings on the side.
- Ask about substitution options, such as steamed vegetables or a salad to replace French fries, or pasta salad or grilled chicken to replace crispy chicken in a pasta dish or on a salad.