Healthy Restaurant Choices – How to Decode the Menu

Who doesn’t love going out to a delicious restaurant meal? There’s no prep, cooking or clean up and you just get to relax, enjoy and focus on connecting with your tablemates.

But restaurant menus can be a battlefield filled with nutritional land minds. With sneaky words used to make meals sound more appealing and super-sized portions, being able to decipher what’s what will help you choose the best, and healthiest, options next time you are dining out.

Menu Glossary

Trying to figure out what some of those descriptive phrases are all about? Here is a handy dandy list to help you next time you find yourself faced with a dining decision.

  • Creamy = Excess fat and sodium
  • Crispy, Golden, Crunchy, Battered or Crusted = All synonyms for fried
  • Glazed = Loaded with added sugar
  • Low Carb = Flavor needs to be replaced, so it’s generally added fat or sugar
  • Stuffed or Loaded = Calorie bombs filled with lots of cheese, starchy carbs, excess meat, etc

Supersize me?

Portion sizes in most restaurants are significantly larger than what’s recommended. Eating everything on your plate can be as much as a day, or more, worth of calories and can leave you feeling uncomfortably full. Opt instead to share small bites with the table, split a meal, or if you really want that dish all to yourself, ask the waiter to box up half before you are served to ensure you aren’t eating more than you should.

Look ahead

If you know you are going out to a restaurant, browse the menu online first and decide what the healthiest option is. Many restaurants are now required to list their calorie content, so it is easier to determine what’s right for you. If you make a plan, it’s simple to avoid over indulging when you arrive at dinner.

Drink responsibly

One of the worst gut busting offenders in restaurants is the drink menu. Many restaurants have a long list of signature cocktails, and while these may sound tempting, they are usually filled with sugary mixers that will destroy your diet. Choose instead a beverage that consists of clear alcohol and plain sparkling water. And don’t forget to hydrate. Drinking plain water before and during dinner has been shown to reduce calorie intake by up to 44%.

Question: Do you have any restaurant hacks that help you dine responsibly?

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