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Eat Out Healthy: Conquer Menu Temptations for Better Health and Weight Loss with these 8 Dining Choices

At middle age, I’m finally learning ways to conquer the menu. And it’s not as fearful as it seems.

Since writing for Healthy Midlife, I’ve become well armed with nutritional information. Restaurant temptations can be controlled.

Now, I look menus in the eye and can make smart decisions that keep me on track with my healthy diet for weight loss regimen. Or, if I succumb to temptation, I know that I am doing so–and that it’s a choice I’m making.

Below are 8 menu choice tips that can help make a dining experience healthier. For me, these choices can also help increase the enjoyment of eating. Making smart choices is a satisfying activity in itself. Combined with relieving the physical effects of making poor food choices, dining out can turn into a truly special occasion without creating long-lasting health issues.

1. Avoid fried anything.

That includes all of the fried basic food groups: Breaded, battered-dipped and tempura. All of these are loaded with fat and can really mess up a middle age digestive systems.

Instead, consider lower fat options, like grilled, broiled and flame-cooked. Additionally, you can look at steamed, poached, roasted and baked entrees.

2. With breads, go hard or none at all.

Overall, it’s best to avoid the complimentary bread that magically appears at our tables. These include biscuits, croissants and pastries. If you can’t avoid temptations, choose establishments that serve hard rolls, unbuttered bread sticks, french bread or whole wheat breads.

3. With sauces, go light.

Heavy sauces can leave us feeling heavier. Avoid thick butter sauces, béarnaise (a weakness for me), and just about any that’s creamy. Instead, hit the wine-based or stock-based sauces.

4. Regarding that salad, darker is better.

Simple, boring and pale, iceberg lettuce seems to be the top choice for salads. However, it’s the least nutritious of the lettuce family. The darker the green, the better the nutrition. Choose romaine, looseleaf, adn butterhead instead. For something different, check out belgian endive, arugula, esarole, or raddicchio.

5. Skip the fries. Period.

Go with a baked potato (without the sour cream and butter) or choose a side salad, steamed veggies or a cup of a broth-based soup.

For breakfast dining, skip the home fries or hash browns as well. Go with a fruit or sliced tomatoes. I love the taste of melon in the morning. And sliced tomatoes with a bit of hot sauce is a flavorful experience for the morning.

6. Some condiments won’t get you compliments.

Mayo and those special sauces tend to be heavy in calories and fat. Instead, load up on extra veggies, like lettuce, tomatoes, or onions. Choose a mustard instead of mayo and ketchup.

7. Pizza: If you must (and I do), go thin and veggie.

The average pizza slice is almost 350 calories. Plus 10 grams of fat. Thick crust is just extra calories with no nutritional value. Go thin on the crust. Then find ways to lighten up the fat. Skip the meats and extra cheese.

8. Alcohol adds up the calories too.

It’s easy to forget that a glass of wine or fun cocktail can add a tremendous amount of calories to a meal. Plus, imbibing before you order a meal can have disastrous effect on the choices we make. With inhibitions down, anything can happen when it comes to ordering, which we might regret later.

Conquering restaurant menu temptations takes practice. It’s a battle I fight each time Debi and I go out. Cravings come out of nowhere and it’s easy to get derailed from any healthy diet weight loss plan. But with each victorious dining out experience, it becomes easier to take on the next menu.

Have you conquered menu temptations? Or, still struggling? Share your experience below. You might be helping the next reader.

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