Eating away from home is become part of the routine for many families. What most families dining out don’t realize is that you don’t have to compromise good nutrition just because you’re eating away from home. In fact today many restaurants provide nutritional substitutes on their menus and only require a simple request to change your order. Fast food chains even offer some healthy alternatives to eating away from home. Here are some tips for nutrition away from home.
Tip #1: Order smaller portion sizes
Many restaurants are beginning to provide smaller portions or even have half portions available at a lower cost to you. Even if you don’t see this option on the menu, you can always ask to only get half of what they make, or even better, order a full dish and split it with the kids. Remember to keep in mind that if you are at a restaurant that their portion sizes are equivalent to two or three actual serving sizes.
Tip#2: Pick healthy Appetizers
If your family likes to get an appetizer then try ordering fruit or the soup of the day, instead of getting anything fried, or something smothered in cheese or gravy. Fruits and Vegetables plates are high in nutrients and fiber. If the family wants to get salads with their meals and you want to be a little more nutritious then you can try limiting how much salad dressing you’re using, or just ask for a fat free dressing.
Tip #3: Stay away from fried Side Dishes
Usually when you go out for dinner your meal comes with a choice of a side dish. Encourage your children to stay away from the French fries and gravy, or the Mac and cheese. Help them select a more nutritious side dish like a fruit, or some steamed vegetables. You can’t go wrong with fruits and veggies. If they’re insisting on having the French fries, try encouraging them to get a baked potato. It’s the same food group and even with butter or gravy on them they still have fewer calories than a plate of French fries. Of course they will probably want cheese or sour cream on it, or both but at least you have eliminated the frying part.
Tip #4: Pick a Frozen Dessert
Trying to find nutritious desserts can be extremely tricky; especially with kids. Come on let’s face it, if it doesn’t look good they’re not going to eat it. Try to encourage them to pick something along the lines of a frozen yogurt with some fresh fruit, or a sherbet ice cream. Even cake without frosting is better than with, and if they want pie, go with the fruit filled pie and steer clear of the chocolate. Pastry desserts are going to be high in sugars and calories so don’t even mention those.
Tip #5: If you have to do fast food then choose your items carefully
Although with kids it’s hard to limit what they can or can’t get when it comes to fast food, but if you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet you’re going to have to. If you’re in a hurry and it has to be fast food, then keep the choices to grilled chicken or fish, and instead of French fries choose the fruit or yogurt side. Encourage them to drink milk or water instead of soda or even juice is better than soda.
Keep in mind that kids will be kids and you will have to give in to giving some treats. Like all things, moderation is the key to good nutrition and particularly to nutrition away from home. Hopefully these tips help you build and maintain a healthy diet.