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How to survive eating out healthily

Try these tips for a better dining experience


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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Eating out and going for lunch or dinner with friends is a great way to catch up and socialise. With things like family gatherings and birthdays, it can get hard to avoid eating out, and it can be tough to deal with if you’re trying to eat healthily. 

If you are eating out and you want to try and go for a healthier option, here are some things to keep in mind. Even if your meal choice isn't the healthiest on the menu, there are a few changes you could ask for to make it better.

Healthier options when eating out

If you know what kind of restaurant you're going to next, you can look at these tips to help you make your choice:

Italian

  • Thick crust pizzas are healthier than thin crust pizzas. They're more filling, so you'll eat proportionally more base and less topping.
  • Pasta is good for you, and very filling. Pasta is sometimes thought to be high in fat, but it isn't the pasta, it's the cream sauces that go with it!
  • A simple tomato sauce is a traditional low fat pasta topping.
  • For a healthier option go for tomato-based sauces made with vegetables, fish or lean meat, instead of the butter, cream and cheese-based sauces.

Chinese

  • Rice – go for boiled or steamed over fried
  • Stir-fried is better than deep-fried
  • Try grilled meats instead of ones covered in skin
  • Avoid the prawn crackers before your meal
  • Go for a broth or soup over a nut-based sauce

Indian

  • Go for the chicken and seafood dishes over the lamb, as it can be pretty fatty
  • Try some yogurt-based sauces instead of the nutty ones
  • Swap the deep-fried samosas and bhaji for grilled kebabs and poppadums
  • Avoid the buttery naan breads and have some chapatti and plain naan bread
  • Opt for tandoori dishes instead of cream and coconut sauces

Burgers or kebabs

  • The amount of fat your burger contains partly depends on how it's cooked
  • Grilled burgers can actually be quite lean, but burgers fried will contain a lot more fat
  • A skinless chicken shish kebab in a pitta with loads of salad is lean and filling. Give the chips a miss and you've got a balanced healthy meal.
  • Any coated and deep-fried foods will be relatively high in fat
  • Most of the fat in chicken is just beneath the skin; take the skin off and you also take a lot of the fat off
  • Frying any food in batter or breadcrumbs means it will absorb fat. In restaurants choose grilled skinless chicken served in a bun. Add plenty of salad to get the balance right.

Japanese

  • Try soft ramen noodles instead of the teppan-fried or yaki soba noodles
  • Taste the teriyaki and yakitori dishes for a healthy main course
  • Sushi is good as is sukiyaki and shabu-shabu
  • Take it handy on yaki soba noodles and deep fried foods
  • Avoid the tempura and try they steamed soya beans and gyoza

Mexican

  • Tostados, burritos, soft tacos, enchiladas and tamales are ok, just make sure not to add extra sour cream or cheese and guacamole
  • Avoid the deep-fried corn tortilla chips, since these aren't the healthiest option
  • Avoid flauta and chimi-changas and opt for something like steamed tamales with chicken or beans instead

Thai

  • Go for stir-fries with chicken/prawns/beef/tofu and opt for steamed noodles with lots of veg
  • Try the spicy chicken and spicy mushrooms instead of things like deep-fried spring/egg rolls
  • Take it easy on the thai green curries that are often based with coconut or peanut sauces

Fish and chips

  • The thicker the chip, the less fat it absorbs during the cooking. Homemade thick-cut chips usually contain about 7% fat. Thinner cut chips usually contain around 15% fat. Chips are not the healthiest option to go for, but if you really want some chips with your meal, go for a thicker cut.
  • Fish is a healthy option, and with potatoes make a filling nutritious meal. Fried in batter though, it can contain a lot of fat. Why not ask for bread, mushy peas or baked beans to fill up and get the balance right?

Sandwiches

  • Go for wholegrain/brown bread when choosing your sandwiches or rolls instead of white. Alternatively, a wrap can be a nice lighter choice.
  • Lean meat/chicken/fish/turkey are good filling options with lots of salad to accompany
  • If you’re picking a spread like mayonnaise, try not to get a filling that has more of it in it like egg mayonnaise or tuna/sweet corn combo with mayo
  • Keep fillings like bacon, cheese and coleslaw to a minimum
  • Some sandwiches can leave you wanting a little something else for that feeling of fullness so try a yogurt, piece of fruit, or some soup to go with

Some content thanks to Safefood.eu.

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Published Sep­tem­ber 16th2014
Tags dinner meals healthhack
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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