by Michelle Stern
You have been working all day, either at home with your kids or at the office. At the end of the day, you are ready for someone else to step up and take care of you for a change. But instead of throwing yourself on the sofa with your feet up, reality sets in and you have to think about dinner. The simplest option, of course, is going out to eat or getting take-out. But for some reason after doing it habitually, we feel guilty, as if we are cheating, or doing something unhealthy. Here are some tips for enjoying restaurant food without the guilt.
• Drink a glass of water when you arrive at a restaurant. Sometimes people confuse thirst for hunger.
• Skip the soda and save your sugar intake for something really special (did anyone say chocolate?)
• Eat Smart. Did you know that while super-sized options save you money, they nearly double your fat and calories?
• Get your dressing on the side, so you can use what you need without drowning your food.
• Order appetizer portions instead of entrees. By controlling your portion size, you can prevent yourself from over eating. Or, if you order an entrée, ask for a “to-go” box and pack up half the meal before you start eating. Out of sight, out of mind.
• Remember – restaurant food tastes good for a reason…lots of butter and salt! With that in mind, consider avoiding cream sauces and gravies if you are watching your waist-line.
• Choose healthy carbs, such as whole grain bread, brown rice or whole wheat pasta.
• Your mama always told you to eat your veggies. Well, she’s right (of course).
• Look beyond the Kid’s Menu. Appetizers from the “regular menu” should have plenty of delicious options for kids that will expand their palates and help them to eat healthier.
• Your kids are watching what you eat. Be sure to set a good example.
If you are feeling guilty for eating out so much, give yourself a break. You are not alone. The average family eats out 29% of the time, where they spend 44% of their food budget. Cut yourself some slack. Go ahead and eat out, just make good choices.
Michelle Stern owns What’s Cooking , a Certified Green business that offers healthy cooking classes and birthday parties to children in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her online shop contains unique sustainable gifts and party favors as well as What’s Cooking Weekly, their online meal planning service offering recipes, grocery lists and tips on making cooking with your kids fun and simple.