If you’re like me, Spring and Summer are a time for day trips, weekend getaways, and week-long vacations. I enjoy travel, but it is often difficult to maintain healthy eating when eating out and find healthy food choices at many of the places I visit. It is not surprising that boardwalks and county fairs have food trucks offering obviously unhealthy foods like deep-fried sugar-coated funnel cakes and burgers served on glazed donuts.
Fall and Winter bring the most festive holidays of the year. Gatherings of family and friends center around food at Thanksgiving and continue through New Year’s Day. That’s roughly 6-weeks celebration and potentially over-indulging in goodies. In fact, the average weight gain during this holiday season is 10-pounds! Obviously the majority of us are not practicing healthy eating when eating out!
One of my pleasures is discovering different regions, cuisines, and cultures when traveling. I equally enjoy family recipes and traditional foods served only during the Thanksgiving through New Year holidays. The challenge is balance: to not deprive ourselves but also to eat healthy while dining out. So, how do we avoid the siren’s call of temptations that abound and continue healthy eating when eating out?
Steps to Ensure Healthy Eating When Eating Out
Plan Ahead of Time
When it is possible, I research places to eat at my destination before I get there. This is easy to do using the Internet. I review the menu online and plan not only where I will eat, but what I will eat. If eating in someone’s home, I will politely alert the hostess that I have food sensitivities and ask what is being served. I find that people are more accepting of a medical restriction placed on my food choices versus trying to win them over with my perspective on weight gain during the holidays. And so as to be a polite guest, I always offer to bring my own food plus enough to share with others.
This approach has helped in a few ways. First, I am able to ignore temptation when I get hungry and not eat whatever is available. Second, I am able to enjoy myself without the stress of trying to find suitable items to eat. Third, when I sit down to eat I already know what I will be eating. This is a relief for people in my company because I sometimes review restaurant menus for quite a while before I find something I can eat.
Be a Selective Eater
At restaurants it is okay to ask your server to make substitutions that will make your meal more healthy. Eliminate the fries and order a side salad. Add extra protein and veggies to a sandwich or order a salad with low-fat dressing instead. Skip the soda and get bottled water. After a while, eating healthy when eating out becomes a habit. I am able to look at a menu and determine what is healthy, what is not, and what I might be able to modify to make it healthy. Most places are willing to make healthy substitutions to your meal. This even includes food trucks.
Do It Yourself
One of my favorite solutions is to pack a picnic or just bring my own food, as noted earlier. The quality of the food that I eat at home is higher quality nutritionally than the food served at most restaurants and in most homes. For the price of eating at a mediocre burger joint, I can bring along a gourmet lunch of healthful foods. My last picnic included smoked duck breast, duck confit, salmon pastrami, and a selection of goat’s milk, cow’s milk, and sheep’s milk cheese, with some fruit and veggies to round out the meal. All of the items were from local farmers and from animals raised on pasture without hormones or antibiotics. The fish was wild caught. By the way, I love these bento boxes for transporting my meals.
Dozens of studies link eating out with obesity. We should try to eat healthy at restaurants, in our homes, and in our neighbor’s homes. We can do this by avoiding the high-fat and sugar-laden foods being served and choosing healthy sides and beverages instead.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life