If you are anything like me and a substantial portion of Americans, you can’t cook to save your life. The closest thing you’ve gotten to a homemade meal since living alone is spaghetti and pre-made pasta sauce, and even that you burned. Hopefully, you have someone in your life—a parent, friend, or spouse—who helps make up for your desperate lack of culinary skills. Even if you have this special person who cooks in your life, it’s likely that you eat out more than you should. And eating out in this modern world is a jungle—you never really know what to expect, and if you don’t watch out you’ll get bit, by hidden calories, fats, sodium, and sugar. To make the most out of your dining experience while still maintaining a modicum of health, follow these tips:
1. Don’t Fall for Meals or Food Items Marketed as Healthy
Everyone obsesses over their health, and fast food chains and restaurants know this. Still, mass-producing healthy fare is pretty difficult, so dining establishments will only go so far as to make their fare seem healthy. You’d be surprised by how bad some of the items marketed as healthy are. For some of the worst suspects, like McDonald’s oatmeal and Wendy’s Baja Salad, check out this article.
2. Avoid Salt Like the Plague While Dining Out
Almost all dining places, especially fast food and chain restaurants, overdo it on the sodium front. If you want to avoid a salt overdose, then it’s best to stay away from adding salt to any meal while eating out.
3. Personalize Meals to Nix the Unhealthiest Ingredients
Many meals at restaurants are incredibly unhealthy and calorie-packed because of only one or two ingredients. For example, if you are eating at a burger joint, ask your server to cut the mayo. If you’ve ordered a salad, make sure that you ask for the dressing on the side, and try to choose healthier options like vinaigrette instead of blue cheese or ranch dressings.
4. Eat About Half Your Meal, and Save the Rest for Later
For whatever reason, most single-serving portions at restaurants are about two times bigger than portion sizes of meals at home. Even though your meal is served on one plate, chances are you can eat half while still feeling satisfied when you’re finished. Besides, who doesn’t love leftovers? You’ll get two meals for the price of one!
Of course, if you are truly committed to maintaining your health and your weight, then you’ll suck it up and learn how to cook. Still, there will be times when you can’t help but have a meal out. If you find yourself often in this position, just be as vigilant as you can. You’ll soon find that eating out fairly frequently doesn’t have to be a heart attack waiting to happen.