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Eating Out Sensibly

Renuka Berry

Food is a basic requirement and healthy food is a necessity. Good food requires a lot of planning and consideration, especially when eaten outside home. There are many restaurants that provide good food, but only a few offer healthy food. Here are a few tips on how you can eat out in a healthier and a more sensible manner.

Everyone loves to go out to eat! Food has always been the centre of attention and a way to celebrate an occasion. Food is a basic requirement— healthy food is a necessity. Good food requires a lot of planning and consideration, especially when it is eaten outside home. There are many restaurants that provide good food, but only a few offer healthy food.

Some important things to do when deciding for a healthy dining out:
  • Monitor the frequency of eating out.
  • Choose the restaurant carefully.
  • Make wise menu selections.
  • Monitor the fats.
  • Make special requests.
  • Practice portion control.
Restaurants are the places to get fancy about food. Obviously, you do not have to cook and can order anything you are craving for. However, each one of us have our own nutritional requir- ements and restrictions. If you are trying to cut down on fat, cholesterol and salt and you do not go out so often, hence you can allow yourself more liberty while dining at the restaurants. However, if you have to monitor the cholesterol level, the saturated fat and the amount of sodium you receive, because of the high blood pressure and heart disease, you must make your selections more wisely.

Wise Menu Selections

Do not go hungry to a restaurant! It is hard to make appropriate decisions on an empty stomach and when your resistance to ‘danger’ foods is low. Do not starve yourself during the day, thinking you will catch up by over­eating or eating the wrong foods later at the restaurant. More often than not, you will eat foods you should avoid and more than you need.

When making a menu selection, concentrate first on the main dish. This will affect what you will order for appetizers and desserts. For instance, there are plates that contain vegetables, there are also others that have none. In this case, ordering a salad as an additional dish may contribute to an adequate and well-balanced dinner. Or the choice of your entree will decide whether or not to order a soup or an appetizer.

Keep in mind the portion size. Sometimes, your eyes can be bigger than your stomach! What this means is—you think you want to eat more than there actually is space to fit it all into. A good idea would be to or­der your entree with an appetizer and ask the waiter to come back later for the choice dessert.

Fighting Those Fats!

No matter what size you are, choosing menu items to minimise fat in­ take is always a good thing to do. Fat is used to enhance taste and flavour. It does that, but also adds significant calories, but without adding any food volume. The danger with fats is their contribution to saturated fat and cholesterol, depending on the type of fats.

Do not be afraid to have choices to fit your own needs. Make special requests! As long as they are reasonable and are asked in a friendly yet assertive manner, you will most likely get what you want.

Huge Portions And What To Do About Them

More often than not, you get more food than you actually need. This usually results in either overloaded stomach or left- overs. That is where portion control could help. One effective strategy would be to ask for a leftovers cont- ainer or a ‘doggie bag’ at the time your meal is being served. You can portion out immediately what you cannot eat and what you will eat in the restaurant and take home. The theory ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is quite helpful in practicing portion control.

If you are unsure of the size, do not be afraid to ask. If you think the portion is way too big, again, make special requests, if possible.

After You’ve Been Served..

Try to eat slowly and enjoy the food you have selected. Keep in mind that it takes approximately 20 minutes for your mind to get the message that your stomach is fed. That means if you eat too fast, when the 20-minute zone is hit, you will feel overloaded. If you eat slowly and less, but enough, the stomach will also get the message only in 20 minutes and you would have saved lots of calories.

Putting utensils down frequently will help slowing down the pace. Or take frequent, but smaller sips of your beverage. This achieves two purposes—slows down the pace and fills you up with fluids. It is also a good idea to drink lots of water, tea or juices before you start eating to fill you up with healthy items.

Redefine Fullness

We have been taught from an early age to leave nothing on the plate. This, in turn has created a concept that full means ‘clean plate.’ When we go out to the restaurants, we try to finish everything that is on the plate, which often leaves us too full.

There is a way to change this, however. When you are pleasantly full, leave a few bites on your plate. This helps to break down the behaviour of associating fullness and the end of a meal with a sparkling clean plate. It will also force you into listening to your stomach rather than letting the clean plate make the determination. Or simply signal to your waiter to take the plate away, which will assist you in not overeating, simply because the plate is right in front of you.

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