Tag Archives: healthy eating

Tips for Eating Healthy at a Restaurant for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching and that means about 25 percent of the American population will be hitting those restaurants. In fact, Valentine’s Day is the second most popular dining out holiday (Mother’s Day tops the charts).

In a perfect world, every meal available at your favorite restaurants would be flawlessly
tailored to your weight loss plan. Portions would be precise and chefs would only use fresh, ingredients, making sure to include lots of veggies. But we live in this world; and although many restaurants are coming around by making menus that appeal to a more health-conscious crowd, it’s still possible to easily overdo it when eating out. Sure, the best way to know EXACTLY what you’re eating is to just prepare all your food at home, but sometimes you need to have a night out. Eating out doesn’t mean that you need to throw all caution to the wind, though. We’ll teach you how to navigate a menu to make the best choices and provide some tips on how to prevent temptation so that you can leave the restaurant feeling good.

Skip the Bread

A big basket of warm, fresh bread dipped in garlicky olive oil would probably be a temptation for anyone. If you’re at a restaurant that serves bread, ask them to take it away from the table. When it’s out of your sight, you’re far less likely to munch while you’re chatting and waiting for your food. If you’re with a group that won’t agree to removing the bread from the table, pop a piece of gum in your mouth. The fresh mint will make it less likely that you mindlessly reach for a piece of bread since the combination of flavors wouldn’t taste that great anyway.

Navigating the Menu

Some restaurants make it easy for you by putting healthier dishes in their own section, but others have the lighter fare scattered throughout the menu. Look through the menu for the words “baked”, “broiled”, or “steamed”. These terms indicate that the food was prepared using heat without extra added fat (and calories), while words like “fried”, “breaded”, or “crispy” mean that the food was rolled in some type of breadcrumbs and then cooked in fat.

You also want to choose dishes that allow you to pick your sides. When choosing sides, opt for green veggies, like broccoli or green beans, and double up on them. Skip cheesy or creamy side dishes. Ask the waiter to have the chef lightly steam the veggies and then toss them in a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper instead of frying them or tossing them in a vat of butter.

Start with a Salad

Start your meal with a light, fresh salad, but don’t assume that all salads are healthy. Some have toppings, like cheese, nuts, and croutons, that quickly add up the calories. Choose a salad that’s just a mixture of different types of veggies and drizzle it with some oil and vinegar instead of creamy bleu cheese or ranch dressing. The goal is to start filling up on fresh veggies before your meal comes.

Practice Portion Control Early

Restaurants are notorious for serving astronomical sized portions. While this is nice in the sense that you’re getting what you pay for, it’s not nice for your waistline. You may have good intentions to only eat half of your meal, but it can be easy to overeat. Ask the waiter to bring a to-go container with your meal. Before you even start to eat, put half of it in the to-go container and set it aside. You’ll get two meals for the price of one.

A Calorie is a Calorie? Recent Research Suggests Otherwise.

VM King

For years, nutrition experts have been saying that “a calorie is a calorie” – that as long as you were staying within your allotted calorie goals and exercising enough, you’d lose weight. But new research is showing that this actually might not be as true as once thought. The timing of a meal may be just as important as the amount of calories you’re eating in a day.

Recent animal studies have shown that the body may process food differently at different times of the day. Food eaten late at night can prompt weight gain more than food eaten earlier in the day due to hormone levels, physical activity, changes in body temperature, and the way food is digested and absorbed.

In a 2013 study, researchers found that overweight people who ate their largest meal after 3 PM lost less weight during a 20-week weight loss program than overweight people who ate their largest meal before 3 PM. The amount of calories they consumed, the amount of time they slept, and the amount of exercise they got was the same.

Another smaller 2015 study measured the amount of calories burned following a meal. Women who ate lunch after 4:30 PM burned fewer calories from “resting and digesting” than women who ate lunch at 1:00 PM. The amount of calories eaten and the amount of physical activity was the same. The women who ate later also had more difficulty burning off carbohydrates and had decreased tolerance to glucose – a risk factor for developing diabetes.

It’s just not the timing of the food that makes a difference, though. People who eat late at night tend to indulge in extra-salty and extra-sweet snacks, like popcorn, chips, and ice cream, which tend to be more caloric.

So what can you do to ensure that you’re staying on track at night?

One seemingly obvious answer is to keep unhealthy, tempting foods out of the house. When you’re sitting on the couch craving potato chips at 9 PM, it’s a lot easier to hold off if they’re still on the grocery store shelf, rather than in your pantry.

Another thing you can do is make sure you’re not overly restricting yourself during the day. If you don’t allow yourself enough food to keep you satisfied during the day, you’re more likely to give in and binge at night. Make sure you’re eating a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a few satiating snacks in between.

People often think of dinner as the biggest meal of the day, but don’t fall into that mentality. Instead, make breakfast or lunch your biggest meal and go lighter for dinner. There’s a phrase that says “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”. What this means is eat your biggest meal early in the morning, then gradually reduce the amount you’re eating as the day goes on.

Now we want to hear from you! Do you eat late at night? Or do you eat your biggest meal early in the morning? What tips and tricks do you have for staying on track late at night?