When dining out, we all know it is difficult to avoid eating too many calories – let alone the amount of fat, cholesterol and sodium which skyrocket in restaurant foods. The best way to help your child or teen avoid overeating, is to discuss the guidelines listed below when going to a restaurant. Now, of course, on special occasions they may want to splurge. That is fine, however, many families are eating out more than ever. If you find this is the case, splurging all the time will lead to extra pounds and having a plan when going to a restaurant is a great idea! These suggestions should be followed by everyone when eating out.
- Ask for sauces and salad dressings on the side.
- Use condiments like salsa and mustard instead of mayonnaise and oil.
- Order non- or low-fat milk or chocolate milk.
- Order baked or grilled lean meats instead of fried or fatty ones.
- Ask for half portions or only eat half a portion. Have them wrap half your meal as soon as it is served.
- Order a sandwich with lean meats: chicken, turkey, tuna,, lean ham or roast beef. Choose whole-grain bread instead of white.
- Avoid the bread basket!!!!! Danger!!
- Ask for child size portions – usually enough for grown adults!!
- Avoid cream-based soups and sauces.
- Order pasta with marinara sauce as opposed to heavy cream sauces.
- Have fruit for dessert.
- Steer clear of food descriptions containing these words: alfredo, pan-fried, crispy, crunchy, battered, au gratin, a la mode, scalloped, loaded/covered, cheesy, buttered, creamed, fried or deep fried
- Opt for: steamed, broiled, grilled, baked, seasoned, stir-fried, poached, roasted
- Save buffet or brunch style eating for special occasions. Try not to go back for seconds!
- Never think you have to finish what’s on your plate. Ask for a take out container and make it a meal for the next day.
- Check out the menu ahead if it is available on-line. Decide with your child what the best selection might be prior to sitting down at the restaurant. (This is my favorite – planning ahead!)
- Order an appetizer instead of an entrée (be cautious – some appetizers have more calories than an entrée!).
- BEFORE you go out have a snack to make sure you are not starving when you get to the restaurant. Remember, never let yourself get too hungry! It works!
Remember the goal is to incorporate behaviors into our lives that support lifelong healthy eating habits. Establishing these guidelines will surely help do that. Don’t forget that your practices will have the biggest influence on your child’s behavior so follow your eating out tips together.
“People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do.”