We all know that eating out can be challenging (yet not impossible) when on a nutrition or weight-loss plan. And now that many restaurants have their calories and nutrition facts posted online, it seems that some of the guesswork has been taken out of healthy eating out, the key word being "some..."
A new study by Tufts University found that nearly one in five restaurant dishes have at least 100 additional calories than what's listed on a restaurant's website. At first, 100 calories doesn't seem so bad, but add those extra 100 calories up over time, and within a few months you can easily gain a pound or two just from eating out. And that doesn't even consider that several of the 269 dishes studied from 42 restaurants had far more than a 100-calorie difference. Some of the restaurants studied were Chipotle Mexican Grill, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse and Boston Market.
So with this new information, how do you eat out healthfully and within the calorie-count you want? You follow these healthy eating out tips, that's how!
5 Tips for Healthy Eating Out
1. Stick to one dish. Simple is better when it comes to eating out healthfully. So instead of taking your chances on an appetizer, main dish and side (if they're all off in calories by 100, that adds up quick!), just select one dish as your meal, and then follow the next five tips.
2. Leave a few bites on your plate. Many calorie counts are underestimated because the person making the food isn't consistent and may give you a larger portion. Combat this by always leaving a few bites on your plate.
3. Ask for everything on the side. Whether it's salad dressing, condiments or a sandwich spread, ask for it on the side. Then use just enough for your food and no more. No gloopy, extra calories here!
4. Skip or severely limit your alcohol. Alcohol servings are notorious for being larger in restaurants. Whether it's a glass of wine, a margarita or a mixed drink, assume that you're getting a drink that is almost double what you're expecting. Or better yet, skip the adult beverages all together!
5. Eat clean. The more processed and complex the food is, the harder it is for you to estimate the calories in a dish yourself. So choose simple dishes like grilled salmon, steamed broccoli or a salad so that you can pick and choose what's actually low-calorie and what's not.
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.