It’s summertime, and the livin’ continues to be easy. The days are longer, and we can be outside for meals. It’s hot, and we don’t want to cook. Let’s enjoy this wonderful weather! Let’s go out to eat! I’m right there with you!
The Rogue Nutritionist, and one of my favorites, Dr. Jonny Bowden, has long been a great source of good information. I’ve combined some of his tips along with some of my own for a nice summer guide for eating in restaurants:
- Make simple choices. Eat plain food. Not boring food, though. Look for entrees without sauces, coatings, etc. Try to choose food as close to its natural state as possible.
- Skip the breadbasket. Oh, the temptation! That bread basket just calls to you! So, ask your server to simply not bring it. If your dinner partners NEED to have bread, tell them to keep it on their side of the table, or even get rid of it once they’ve taken a piece. If you DO choose to eat bread, lather it with good butter. Adding a healthy fat to your starch helps nullify the effects of the starch on our blood sugar. I sometimes ask myself, “would I have ordered this bread?” Usually the answer is no, and this helps me to avoid eating it.
- Get raw! Olives, raw vegetables with salsa, and even a cheese plate make great appetizer choices. A small salad is always a great choice, as long as it’s just a salad, without dried fruit and other add-ins. Ask for dressing on the side (ALWAYS ask for dressing on the side) so you can control the amount. Taste the greens, not the dressing. But DO add some dressing. It helps your body absorb the nutrients in the salad.
- Choose lean protein instead of pasta. A big plate of fettuccini Alfredo will spike and crash your blood sugar and help you store fat. Choose a lean protein instead, like fish, poultry, lamb, or steak. And avoid any meat with the words “breaded” or “battered” beside it. Baked, grilled, steamed, and even blackened are words your body likes.
- Swap the starch for another vegetable. I love a good baked potato, but a veggie is usually a better choice when eating out. Skip the rice pilaf, too, and look for something green, like sautéed spinach, green beans or roasted zucchini with garlic. Choose whatever vegetables sound good to you, as long as they aren’t too starchy. If you do choose a baked potato, ask if the restaurant serves good, yummy (REAL) butter. You heard me – butter! If it’s organic, that’s a big plus! As with the bread tip above, adding a healthy fat to your starch helps nullify the effects of the starch on our blood sugar.
- Swap the sugary dessert for fresh fruit. The easiest way to undo a healthy meal is a big, sugar-laden dessert. Ask instead for fresh berries or the fruit-and-cheese plate along with a cup of green or herbal tea. If you must have dessert – and dessert can be okay sometimes - try to get your other tablemates to share it with you so you can have a bite or two. That can often be enough to satisfy your desire for sweetness!
To read more great ideas from Dr. Jonny, visit www.jonnybowden.com.
To Your Vitality!