When you’re trying to eat healthily, eating at a restaurant can pose a problem. While the food is usually delicious and you didn’t have to prepare it, it can also be loaded with enemies to your heart like saturated fat and sugar. But most menus offer some healthy selections that can make eating out both delicious and healthful.
Usually, the first people look on the menu for healthy food is in the salad section. Many salads can be healthy, but you need to make sure that the ingredients – especially dressings – are low in saturated fat. In some cases, there’s so much fat and so many calories in restaurant salads you’d be better off eating a hamburger!
You can always choose grilled items that are lower in grease. Chicken makes a lower-fat alternative to beef. And fish offers a heart-healthy fat that actually helps to protect your arteries and veins from cholesterol. Baked or grilled fish is the perfect option when eating out.
For side items, look for steamed vegetables and green salads. Steaming cooks vegetables to perfection while allowing their natural nutrients to stay intact. Raw veggies are also a good side item if they’re available.
Carbohydrates when eating out can be a challenge. The goal of a heart-healthy diet is to increase your fiber intake. Look for whole-grain breads and whole-grain rice for your starchy items. These are high in fiber and help keep your cholesterol levels low.
Portion control is another issue with eating out. Try splitting a meal with a friend when you eat out instead of eating the entire portion on your own. You can also split the meal in half and box up one portion to take home. This can keep you from mindlessly eating everything on your plate.
When it’s time for dessert, there aren’t usually a lot of heart-healthy choices. You may want to ask for fresh fruit as a substitute. Of course, every once in a while, it’s perfectly okay to have dessert with your meal. The problem comes when you eat dessert with every meal.
Most restaurants are aware that people are watching their health. Some restaurants offer special menus for health-conscious guests. You can ask if they have a separate menu. These are usually lower in fat and higher in fiber. The portions are also often much smaller. With a little effort, you can eat heart-healthy no matter where you go.
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