Hey all! While I relax with my Blends (likely via hiking and boot camps), here is another great guest post with some helpful tips on finding healthy restaurant choices. This will definitely be handy for this weekend!
I’ve decided to take a full week off of blogging and answering e-mails. I still have one more guest post coming for you though so you should still come back next week.
Hopefully my mind will be able to unscramble in this week and I will come back refreshed and with some sweet new posts for you all! That’s the goal anyhow!
If you really need me, hit me up on Twitter! I will probably be all over that and Instagram over the weekend. Possibly even on Vine since that’s my newest social media discovery. I even have 1 whole follower now. 😉
Tips for Finding Healthy Restaurant Options
Restaurant food can feel like the demise of a diet whether you are looking to lose or maintain weight, or perform better at your sport. It seems like there’s hidden fat, preservatives, and calories around every bite. Here are a few tips to help you find options that will keep you closer on track.
The Obvious: Plan Ahead and Choose Healthy Restaurant Options
There are a couple tips we always see and hear when it comes to restaurant food, and some of it holds true. Taking a look at the menu ahead of time can help you see if there is even something that you would like to eat, so you’re not pressured into ordering something you don’t really want.
Some menus now offer “lite” options or “under 700 calorie” meals, which can be a good choice if you are looking to maintain a lower calorie diet. You can also save calories choosing a cleaner food preparation like grilled or baked chicken instead of fried. However simply believing it when a menu advertises something as healthy can be misleading.
Ask for Ingredients Not Just Calories for Healthy Restaurant Options
Asking for the ingredients helps you identify hidden calorie bombs in meals, or odd pseudo-foods that you don’t want to put in your body. McDonald’s now has a “light” breakfast option, with sandwiches around 250 calories. For breakfast 250 calories is far from outrageous, so one might think that’s the best they can do if they are at McDonald’s.
If you look at what’s actually on the sandwich, you’ll find that it contains the bread (English muffin), egg whites, Canadian bacon, pasteurized process white cheddar cheese, and liquid margarine. None of these are particularly high in calories, but if you are like me then the “liquid margarine” is something you can skip out on. It will only save you 15 calories, but it will also save you 15 ingredients including two types of preservatives, artificial flavoring, and color additives.
Taking a look at actual ingredients will help you make healthier choices. This works especially well with foods advertised as lower in calories or low fat because you can see if they achieved that label by adding extra sugars or preservatives.
Fill Up On Nutritional Needs
As a power athlete I have to pay a lot of attention to what I eat. It’s not because I need to lose weight or maintain a physique, but because my workouts are intense and I have to be properly fueled for performance as well as recovery.
Another way to look at what’s “healthy”, especially when you want to treat yourself, is to not worry so much about things like calories, but focus on the nutrients that your body needs. If I go to Wendy’s I don’t jump to the “lite” menu just because there are fewer calories. I only eat out once a week, so I want to enjoy good, fatty food. Instead I look at how I can construct a meal that meets my nutritional needs. I typically eat a lot of protein and relatively limited carbohydrates. A burger and fries can provide some protein, but to get more of what I want and less of what I don’t I often order chicken nuggets instead of french fries.
If you struggle with a vitamin or mineral deficiency, you can aim for foods that help fulfill those needs, or if you’re trying to load up before tomorrow’s long run you can look for something carbohydrate-rich.
Again, when we eat at restaurants we sometimes are looking to treat ourselves so we might not be looking for something ultra-healthy. However if we are looking beyond just the calorie count, we can find information that is just as important: actual ingredients, and other nutrients that we can focus on.
Andi Singeris a health and nutrition blogger working with IHM, a San Diego based company. You’ll often find her hammering away on her computer at the coffee shop or her home office, or in the gym where she both gets her workouts in and works part time as a personal trainer.
Hopefully I can put these into practice at Blend…we will see!
How do you stay healthy when eating out?
What is your favorite restaurant? I’m a fan of Chipotle and Pei Wei.
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