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Avoid a Dining Disaster

Which city do you think goes out to eat the most? Recently, Bundle conducted a survey, and the answer is…Dallas! The survey concluded that Dallas diners eat out more often than residents of any other major city. They have 70 percent more restaurant transactions than the average. Dallasites also spend 12 percent more than average each time they open a menu.

With eating out on Dallas residents’ mind, Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Elana Zimelman, RD, LD, CDE, offers her top tips when it comes to healthy eating at a restaurant.

Know Before You Go
First and foremost, know what you plan to order before you get there. It will make the endless options a thing of the past and a healthier diet a thing of the future. These days, many restaurants offer their menu and nutrition information online. Not only does the Internet offer help, but smartphone apps are tackling nutrition information as well. A great app to download is Calorie King. It’s free on iPhone and Android and offers nutrition information on most restaurant menus. It’s easy, just type in the restaurant of your choice and find the meal of your choice. Now that you have technology at your fingertips, there’s no excuse to not be prepared!

Educate Your Kids
Oftentimes, families choose to eat out for simplicity and a fun time. But free reign on menu options can be a dining disaster. It’s great to get your kids involved in menu options and nutritional information starting at a young age. Before heading to your favorite restaurant, go over the menu options at home.

If your kids are unable to read the menu, only offer them a few of the healthier options when visiting the restaurant. This way, they will never know about the other choices and can still take part in making their own meal decision.

Practice Portion Control
Many restaurants go way overboard on portion sizes. The easiest way to avoid eating everything on your plate is to split entrees with one another. As long as it’s not on your plate, you won’t be tempted to take a bite. Out of sight, out of mouth! Another idea is to ask for a to-go box before you take your first bite. This way you will be mentally prepared to save some of your meal for later.

One way to keep the big portions and stay in nutrition control is to always order steamed vegetables or a salad as your side dish. An easy way to remember the servings of fruits and vegetables you should be eating daily is to think, “five is fine, nine is divine.”

Special Requests
It’s perfectly acceptable to make special orders or requests at restaurants. These healthy requests will ensure you’ve made the healthiest option available. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Ask for any sauces or dressing on the side. You’d be surprised how much your calorie intake increases with the Teriyaki sauce on your healthy order of salmon. As for salad dressing, remember to use the fork tip: dip your fork into your dressing before each bite. You’ll reduce the amount of dressing you actually use.

  • When ordering meat, ask for grilled with no oil.

  • Always request steamed vegetables with no butter.

  • Pass on starches and replace with healthier options, such as vegetables, salad or fruit.

Enjoy your next restaurant trip!

For more information about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services or to make an appointment with a registered dietitian, click here or call 972.560.2655.