Healthy Restaurants

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Healthy Restaurant Choices – Eating Nutritious Meals While Dining Out

Healthy restaurant dining has become an explosively popular trend over the past few years. As health care costs continue to spiral out of control, a growing number of people are looking for ways to trim a few pounds and shed their excess weight. The Fast Food Nation is aggressively searching for an alternative to the grease-laden and calorie-filled entrees to which they’ve grown accustomed. As a result, there are more opportunities than ever for eating smart at a healthy restaurant.

Below, you’ll discover how to find a healthy restaurant in your city that matches your style and culinary tastes, including gourmet foods and fine dining restaurants. We’ll explain how to make the most of your experience dining there as well as the virtues of enjoying healthy takeout foods.

How to Find a Healthy Restaurant

Dining out is a challenge if you’d like to stay fit and healthy. Restaurant dishes that seem wholesome on the surface sometimes hide hundreds of calories. For example, wraps were once considered light and nourishing, but often contain over 1,000 calories and more than their share of fat grams. It’s far more effective to dine at a healthy restaurant that specializes in dishes that are good for your heart and figure. The challenge is finding them.

If you have friends or family members who are actively pursuing a healthful lifestyle, ask them for recommendations. Chances are, they’ll have a small list of favorite places they can share with you. Otherwise, look for reviews online. There are websites that review healthy restaurants that are located throughout the country. These sites will not only direct you to restaurants with free wireless and healthy takeout in your city, but they’ll also provide a personal review of the foods offered there.

The Virtues of Healthy Takeout

A lot of people would prefer to avoid dining in and instead, take their meals home with them. Unfortunately, many of them cut corners and opt for fast food, rationalizing that the sacrifice to their health is temporary. You can enjoy a better alternative. There are a growing number of restaurants that offer delicious healthy takeout for their customers. They realize that a dining experience isn’t always desired, but also understand that their customers still crave wholesome meals. To fulfill that need, they go to great lengths to provide healthy takeout that is both tasty and nutritious.

Choosing a Healthy Restaurant Begins At Home

There is likely at least one healthy restaurant in your area. Whether you’re looking for a fine dining experience or healthy takeout choices to enjoy at home, look in your town. If you live in a larger city, search online for high-quality restaurant reviews that provide insight about the experience you can expect to enjoy. Reading personal reviews is one of the best ways to find a local healthy restaurant that suits your preferences. They can detail certain meals, their nutritional value, and even which dishes to avoid. What’s more, you can search for these reviews from the comfort of your home.

Tips for Eating At a Healthy Restaurant

It’s important to be aware of the factors that add unnecessarily to the calorie and fat count of your meals, even when dining at a healthy restaurant. Don’t be afraid to special-order dishes without mayonnaise or heavy salad dressings. Consider drinking water rather than sodas and other sugared beverages. Limit the salt content and watch your portions; even a “light” meal can contain 500 calories. You’ll find some healthy restaurants that will even offer deep-friend or battered foods, often to attract new diners who are wary of the unknown. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or looking for an alternative to the fast food lifestyle, search for healthy restaurant reviews online and you may be surprised to find healthy restaurant choices which also include gourmet foods and fine dining too.

Healthy Restaurant Choices

As dieting and special eating plans become more popular, people are becoming even more interested in making healthy restaurant choices to make sure they stick to their diets. It’s taken consumers exerting a lot of pressure on their favorite eateries to start offering healthy restaurant choices, but they’re finally doing it.

Are you a vegetarian? Many restaurants have vegan options for their customers. Do you have celiac disease, where you can’t eat wheat, barley, or other long grains? Many restaurants are offering their gluten-intolerant customers their own healthy choices by serving gluten-free foods. No-Carb diet? No problem? Low fat? You can’t swing a carrot stick without hitting entire plates of healthy restaurant choices in the form of low-fat versions of a restaurant’s popular items.

You can even get healthy takeout from a lot of restaurants. Not only do most healthy restaurants offer take out versions of their regular menu items, but there are even restaurants that specialize in filling healthy restaurant choices for their customers. Think vegetarian restaurants, Mediterranean restaurants, and organic, locally-grown restaurants.

You can make your healthy choices first by recognizing that it’s better to adopt healthy eating as a lifestyle, not as a diet to be started and stopped whenever you hit your target weight. By having permanent healthy eating habits, making healthy restaurant choices is much easier. And if you want to be naughty once in a while, and have something that’s not typically healthy, you won’t feel like you’ve failed in your diet.

Some of our favorite healthy restaurant choices include things like getting a sandwich in healthy salad form from our favorite footlong sandwich shop, or getting a burger without the bun. For the low-fat dieters, consider getting a bison burger or a turkey club sandwich and low-fat mayo. If sodium and salt are a problem for you, make your own healthy restaurant choices by ordering things that are naturally low-sodium, like vegetables, fish, and dairy products. You can also request that the kitchen honors your healthy restaurant choices by leaving out certain ingredients from your meal.

Another option is to use a food monitoring service like Livestrong.com, DietFacts.com, or CalorieKing.com to see if you’re making healthy restaurant choices. Just sign up for an account, enter the items you ate for your meal, and you’ll be able to see if you made the best decision for your  new healthy lifestyle.

Of course, there are plenty of foods to avoid if you’re trying to make healthy restaurant choices, and there are a few ways to tell if you should or should not be eating those particular foods.

* If you can upgrade your meal by using the words “size” and “super.”

* If you can order your meal while you’re still in the car.

* If you leave the restaurant with your pants unbuttoned and your belt unbuckled, telling the hostess you need to be rolled out to your car

* If the restaurant will take your photo and put it on the “Wall O’ Shame” because you ate their Gut Buster/Heart Attack Special/Death By Beef

* If the paper bag your food comes in is shiny with grease by the time you get it out to your car.

Believe us, we understand how hard it can be to make healthy restaurant choices. The foods that are bad for us taste so darn good, and the ones that are good for us, well, could always be made better with a nice cream sauce, or butter and salt, covered in cheese, or dipped in chocolate. But it’s important to remember that those should be an occasional treat, maybe once every couple of weeks, but certainly not every day.

Healthy Restaurant Eating

1. Pick a restaurant with healthy options.

Eating out should feel like a special treat, so think carefully about what kind of food you want to eat. While most restaurants do not cater to healthy eating, there are a few gems out there. I encourage you to check out the “Healthy Boston-area Restaurants” section of the Free Resources page on my website. I am always looking to add to this list, so please email me your favorite healthy restaurants (in Boston or elsewhere).

2. Customize your meal.

Don’t be afraid to ask your server to modify a dish or to create a special dish for you. Restaurants are usually willing to accommodate your desires, as long as the have the ingredients on hand. Some requests you might make include asking for extra vegetables, sauce on the side, an entree portion of an appetizer, or steamed vegetables instead of sauteed.

3. Watch your portion size.

As I mentioned in my February newsletter, restaurants typically serve larger portions than what we would eat at home. I find that it’s very tempting to eat all of the food that’s put in front of me, so here are some strategies to avoid overeating.

* Fill up on a large salad and then order a bowl of soup or appetizer rather than an entree.

* Share a main dish and a side dish with a friend.

* Ask for two plates and put half of your entree on the second plate. Only eat from the second plate if you are still hungry. If you don’t eat the whole portion, take the rest home for leftovers.

* Drink a lot of water and chew your food thoroughly.

4. Don’t starve yourself before eating out.

If you know you are going out for dinner, you might be tempted to skip a meal earlier in the day or eat substantially less. This strategy will backfire because you will be so hungry once you are at the restaurant that you will end up over-ordering and overeating.

5. Enjoy yourself.

Keep all of the above in mind without depriving yourself. Don’t order something just because you think it’s healthy. Order food that you know will satisfy you and then don’t feel guilty about it!

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