So, you’ve pretty much mastered eating healthy at home, but now you’re traveling all the time and finding yourself eating out a lot. What’s a girl (or guy) to do when faced with this situation? Well, here are my top 10 tips to keep you on track even when you’re on the go and eating out:
1. Plan Ahead. Eating healthy takes work and planning. Plan your meals for the week during the weekend. Prepare meals that you can pack for lunch during the week. If you’re in a situation where you can’t take a brown bagged lunch, prepare snacks, such as carrot or celery sticks, fruit, granola bars or trail mix and have them easily accessible so that you can grab them on the go. These snacks will tide you over in case you get hungry between meals. Planning ahead also applies to when you’re eating out. Check out the menu online and if you can, pick the restaurant based on their healthy options. This especially applies if you have special needs such as if you’re vegan or are on a gluten-free diet.
2. Keep Snacks in the Car with You. This is especially important if you have kids. They’ll throw tantrums when they’re hungry sometimes, so you have to make sure that you have some snacks around. Of course, some snacks are more appropriately kept in the car than others. I would suggest granola bars, trail mix and dried fruit.
3. Go for Grilled or Baked>. Items that are grilled or baked generally have less oil, butter or calories than those that are sautéed, breaded, fried or creamed.
4. Ask for your Sauces and Dressings on the Side. Always ask for sauces and salad dressings on the side so that you can control the amount that you put on your meal. Oil and vinegar is the best option for salad dressing as many commercial salad dressings, especially those from fast food places, have a lot of food additives, salt and sugar in them (just look at the back of the package the next time that you’re at a fast food joint.)
5. Mix and Match. When you’re at a restaurant and see a couple of items that you would like in different entrée items, don’t be afraid to ask the server whether the chef can create a meal for you with some of the ingredients that they have in different items on the menu. I have done this several times, especially with salads. Even if the place didn’t have an option for creating your own salad, I’ve done it, so don’t be afraid to ask.
6. Go Brown over White. If you eat rice, this is good advice for you to apply at home as well as when you’re on the go. The difference between white and brown rice is this: brown rice contains the bran layer and germ of the rice which contains vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B1, B3, iron and magnesium. When the bran layer and germ are removed from the rice, you’re left with white rice. Brown rice also has about six times the amount of fiber that white rice has and fiber helps to keep your bowels moving. Brown rice is also much better for diabetics because your blood sugar rises much more slowly than when you eat white rice. Studies have also been done that show that brown rice lowers your risk of developing diabetes.
7. Start with a Salad. If you start your meal with a salad, you’ll get some veggies in for the day and you’ll also satisfy some of your hunger so that you don’t overindulge on your main meal.
8. Skip the Fries. Opt for veggies or a salad with your sandwich instead of fries. Fries are generally fried in inflammatory vegetable oils and are often loaded with salt as well.
9. Skip the Bread. Many restaurants offer bread while you’re waiting for your meal. These are just extra calories. Most of the time you’re offered white bread which is loaded with chemical additives and will raise your blood sugar quickly because the wheat germ and bran layer have been removed. Of course you want to skip the bread if you’re gluten-free.
10. Drink water. Instead of wasting empty calories on soda, lemonade or sweetened ice tea, opt for water instead. Soda and other fountain drinks have tons of sugar and the diet drinks aren’t any better as they contain aspartame, which is a known carcinogen. There are so many ways to “spice” up a glass of water, you can ask for a lemon, lime or orange slice on the side. You can also try sparkling water which will give you some of the carbonation of a soda. Another trick that I do sometimes is watering down a sweetened beverage such as lemonade with sparkling water. That way you get half of the sugar, but still have a tasty drink.
So you can eat healthy when you’re eating out. It just takes a little bit of planning ahead, menu reading and making smart choices!
Now I want to hear from you, what’s your favorite tip for eating healthy on the go?