Tips for Eating-Out and Eating-On-the-Run
Eating out has become the norm in America and other countries that are adopting a more Western culture. A recent report by the US FDA indicated eating out as a major contributor to the obesity epidemic in America. In 2006 restaurants brought in over half a trillion in total sales. This rise in revenue for commercial dining is a result of increased expenditures on dining out. An estimated 40% of an American family’s food budget is spent dining out, and for individuals about 4.2 meals per week are consumed in a commercial setting.
Although fast food and commercial dining are commonly stereotyped as less healthy, total avoidance of these dining options may be impossible for someone that eats on the run; however, if you equip yourself with the nutritional knowledge you may choose healthier options and even trade-off fast-food with self-prepared, less costly alternatives. Below are some common reasons for eating out:
- No time to prepare, too busy
- No time to plan
- Tired from your day –you think it’s less work to eat out
- Tastes better
- Don’t know how to cook
- Don’t know what to cook
- Bored with your food choices
- Social aspects of eating out
Without question there is validity in each of the reasons listed above. However evaluation of food preferences must be considered especially when these reasons for eating out lead to increased expenditures on food and decreased quality and nutritional value of food. It may be inevitable to avoid eating out given that you don’t have time or that you are engaged in a social event; however, let’s evaluate what these reasons really mean, and if eating out really makes an ultimate difference.
What’s the Real Deal?
Click here for: Eating out vs. Self-Preparation side-by-side Comparison
Is it really less time to eat out?
- Average wait time at Panda Express or Rubio’s during PEAK HOURS is estimated to be around 10-15 minutes!!!!
- Consider traveling time to your meal destination versus bringing a lunch to work. You do the math: 40 minutes to make 4 servings of healthy lunch (10 minutes each!)
It’s more expensive to eat out. COSTS MORE!!!
- This one’s a no brainer. Pound for pound, it costs less to make your own food.
- For more information go to healthy shopping information, click here.
- Cost of eating out is NOT JUST FINANCIAL! Consider the costs of health care later in life due to unhealthy lifestyle choices you are making now.
Less healthy when you don’t make it.
Portion sizes are out of control!
- Studies show that you will overeat when there’s an abundance of food in front of you.
Boredom ---could you upgrade your cooking repertoire? There is a myriad of online, and television resources with simple, quick recipes.
Tips for eating out
- Order ½ portions—most restaurants will meet your request (cheaper too!)
- Or, ask for ½ portion to go (before you are served the meal)
- Go for Kid’s Menus (smaller portions)
- Don’t be afraid to special order. Many foods can be grilled or pan seared instead of fried.
- Cut out the caloric drinks. Start off your meal with ice water (lowers hunger)
- Eat SLOWLY!!! It takes 30 minutes for your brain to get the signal that you’re full.
- Asian Food:
- Ask for light oil
- Avoid fried foods, including rices
- Order BROWN RICE if possible
- Ask for steamed vs. fried
- Mexican Food:
- o Avoid refried (mashed) beans
o Ask for ½ cheese or on side
o Use more salsa for taste
o Limit sour cream and tortilla chips
o Consider corn tortillas over flour tortillas
- Italian Food:
- o Avoid cream sauces (or minimize portion size)
o Get whole wheat pasta
o Add veggies to your pizzas and pastas!!!
- Indian Food:
o Lamb dishes are high in saturated fat
o Avoid fried dishes
o Try flatbread with side dips instead of fried appetizers.
Tips for eating on the Run:
- Most fast food places have healthier options
- o Sides like apples or veggies
o Get Low Fat milk or water vs. sugary sodas
o Grilled chicken sandwiches
o Minus the mayo/cheese
o Choose light salad dressings. Vinaigrette vs. Creamy Ranch
o Beware of yogurt parfaits! They are extremely high in fat and sugar.
- Whole fruits like apples, bananas, pears are GREAT grab and go snacks.
- Check-out healthy affordable frozen entrees. You can add frozen veggies to them as well!
- Prepare large quantity and freeze individual portions for the week.
- Rotisserie Chickens!
- Great for salads, on pizzas, in pastas, and can even be used for stocks and soups!!!!
- Prepare all veggies for the week: wash, cut, and place in plastic baggies in the frig. They are ready for you to grab and go!
- Tip: place a slightly dampened paper towel with the plastic baggie to prolong the freshness of your veggies and fresh herbs.