Dining out is a part of life for many Bostonians, but if you are trying to eat healthy, sticking to your diet is a challenge. It all starts with deciphering the menu, and making smart decisions. A menu is designed to get your appetite going, but be careful of the terminology used in describing each dish. It is easy to identify high fat, and high calorie foods, which are described as fried, au gratin, crispy, scalloped, pan-fried, sautéed, buttered, creamed, or stuffed. A much safer choice would be broiled, baked, grilled, poached, or roasted. You can always ask the server how the dish is prepared and about the ingredients. It is smart to choose dishes that feature seafood, chicken, or other lean meats, and avoid fatty meats. If you can’t help but order fatty meat, simply trim all visible excess fat and skin. Some health conscious restaurants will label the healthy dishes.
The way in which you order your meal is another opportunity to make it healthier. First be careful about the extras you order with a meal. The bread on the table, the drinks, and appetizers are often just another source of more fat, sodium, and calories. Ask for fats, and sauces on the side so you can control just how much you need. Be aware that pickled, smoked, and dishes with broths are often supersaturated with sodium. Cheese, creams, and mayo are all mostly fat. If you know of a healthier substitute ask for that instead. For example try egg whites instead of whole eggs.
The portion size at some restaurants can easily be over 1000 calories in one serving so be careful about how much of it you eat. Portion control is tough because if it’s in front of you, chances are you are going to eat the whole thing. Studies that look at portion size find that regardless of portion size people ate over 85% of whatever was on their plate. Other studies show that the feeling of fullness is slow, and it is very easy to over eat before you feel it. So, eat slowly, and drink a lot of water. If you are starting to feel full and don’t want to waste the meal take the rest home. It can be enjoyed at a later time.