It’s normal to want to get out of the kitchen occasionally and let someone else do the cooking for you. But what about sticking to the Parrillo Nutrition Program? Will dining out strike a fatal blow to your resolve? Not necessarily. These days, most restaurants cater to health conscious diners, so it’s not that difficult to find healthy cuisine while dining out. According to the National Restaurant Association, Americans eat out 4.1 times a week. And many of those meals are eaten at fast food restaurants, where food is typically high in fat and sodium.
But does dining out have to spell dieting disaster? Not necessarily. One of the many advantages of the Parrillo Nutrition Program is its adaptability to any eating out situation. These days, healthy foods are served practically everywhere. You don’t have to be a recluse while on the Parrillo Nutrition Program. You’re free to go out to restaurants, even fast food places, to enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner with your friends, family, or business associates. Nor should you pass up invitations to parties or other social events just because you’re on a healthy eating program. What follows are some practical guidelines for making healthy choices at any type of restaurant, as well as for enjoying parties and other events.
Restaurants for Breakfast
• Order scrambled egg whites, or scrambled egg substitutes (such as Egg Beaters). Request that the eggs be cooked without added oil.
• For carbohydrates, your best bets are oatmeal or oat bran.
• Select entrees made with lean proteins (such as chicken and fish) and vegetables. Some good suggestions for ordering are Moo Goo Gai Pan, Szechwan Shrimp or Chicken, and sushi.
• Request that the sauce be served on the side, or forgo it altogether.
• Asian restaurants serve generous helpings. Consider ordering one entree and splitting it with a friend, unless you want to take the left overs home.
• For an appetizer, try vegetable antipasto (if available), with dressing on the side.
• Look for entrees such as grilled chicken and fish, as well as Italian dishes that are marked as low in fat.
• Avoid entrees prepared in cream sauce or Alfredo sauce.
• Ask the waiter to leave the rolls and bread sticks in the kitchen or if you must indulge, use butter flavored CapTri® instead of butter.
• When ordering a dinner salad, request dressing on the side.
• Opt for steamed vegetables as your side dish over pasta. Make sure the vegetables are steamed.
• Grilled chicken, shrimp, or lean meat entrees are good choices.
• Request pico de gallo (a mixture of chopped tomatoes, green peppers, and onions) instead of salsa.
• Mexican rice or black bean soup are nice accompaniments to a Mexican meal. So are the re-fried beans, but check first to see whether they are prepared in lard, or baked or boiled, and seasoned. If they aren’t re fried in lard, enjoy them.
• A dinner salad with non-fat salad dressing is a healthy meal-starter.
• Order grilled lean meat, chicken, salmon, or other fish (prepared without oil).
• For a side dish, select a steamed vegetable such as broccoli.
• At the salad bar, stick to fresh vegetables and non-fat or low fat salad dressing. Many salad bars serve fresh fruit too, which makes for a great dessert.
Home style or Cafeteria Restaurant
•Request grilled or lemon chicken, turkey breast without the gravy, or white fish prepared without sauce or oil.
• Select steamed vegetables (no sauce or butter), salad with non fat dressing, or carrot/vegetable medley prepared without butter or margarine.
• Blindfold yourself when passing by the dessert line.
• Most fast-food establishments have salads on their menus; grilled chicken salads are your best bets. Order reduced fat salad dressing with your salad.
• If there’s a salad bar, stick to fresh vegetables and fat free salad dressing. At fast food restaurants that serve fish, order baked fish, steamed vegetables, and a salad.
• Eat a meal before you go to the party to fend off hunger pangs and cravings.
• Snack on fresh vegetables and fruit (but pass up the dip).
• If you’re going to dinner with a group of friends and are concerned that you’ll overeat, eat some natural high fiber foods (like raw vegetables or fruit) before you go. You’ll be less likely to pig out later.
• Offer to bring a couple of your own dishes (low fat, of course) to the gathering.
• Instead of a cocktail, drink a diet soda or carbonated water with a twist of lemon or lime. On the surface, it may not seem like fun to limit yourself to certain foods when eating out. But rest assured: The ability to make healthy choices at restaurants is just one more positive step toward getting in great shape. You’ll feel better, and your body will love you for it.