How to eat out without Dr. Becky’s Health Done Right meals.

Going Rogue? If you get the chance to eat in one of those wonderful “hole in the wall” family owned restaurants, or to enjoy the local cuisine that is not only authentic but yummy with a capital YUM, utilize the following information to help you stay on your healthy journey.  Remember, it’s much easier to not eat the calories than to burn them off.

Eating out should be enjoyable, but shouldn’t sabotage your entire week of healthy eating with one meal off the plan. Coming prepared with the low down will help you not to blow your diet. Make your plan before you go out and don’t go starving. Don’t forget to engage in mindful eating. Eating slowly will be important, since you don’t have the true portion control diet to end your meal.  If you are ravenously hungry, order a salad and a tall glass of unsweetened ice tea when you arrive, so you don’t dive tongue first into the bread and appetizer. Or, check out the a’ la carte veggies, a Brussel sprouts or broccoli dish, is a great appetizer, and will calm your hungry hippo. Order by size, for example an 8-oz. piece of meat, then cut it in half when your plate arrives, and put the 2nd portion on the back of the plate to take home. If you don’t know the size or amount of a food, divide the plate, or estimate the proper amount of food types by using familiar objects, deck of cards size of meat (deck of cards=3 oz. of meat), the size of a checkbook= 3 ounces of fish, one ounce of cheese=4 dice, or ½ plate vegetables and fruit, pasta, or rice, ½ a baseball, or less than ¼ of the plate.

Specialty Dining

Don’t hesitate to pull a Sally from When Harry Met Sally and order exactly what you want. Inquire about the specific ingredients and hold the fat or sugar-laden ones and request healthy substitutions.

At Mexican restaurants; skip the chips, and opt for soft tacos instead of crispy tacos, a burrito bowl instead of a traditional tortilla-wrapped burrito. Gazpacho and Ceviche (raw fish “cooked” in lemon or lime juice) are great starters. Chicken, lean pork, fish, or shrimp fajitas are good choices, especially if you use ½ cup of meat, one soft tortilla, all the salsa you can find, and limit the cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. Share or take a doggie bag. Camarones de Hacha (shrimp in a tomato-coriander sauce) and Snapper Vera Cruz are also good choices, especially if paired with ½ cup brown rice and veggies. Avoid frito (fried), con creama (with cream), and con queso (with cheese).

It’s Amore’!  Italian can be challenging, but here are some tips. Consider saying no to the bread basket. Dipping, double or not, into olive oil, can soak up a lot of calories; consider trying to calculate out a teaspoon, add some spices and/ or balsamic vinegar, and limiting yourself to just one piece of bread.  Mussel’s marinara, grilled calamari (squid), Ciopino (tomato-based fish stew), grilled, roasted or broiled fish, chicken or shrimp are great choices. Frutti di mare (seafood and tomato), served with pasta sauce; ask for whole grain pasta, you will be surprised at how often they have a stash that they don’t advertise, and divide out ½ cup pasta, and 1/4 cup meat and take the rest to go. Start with a mixed green salad, ask for the vinaigrette on the side, and hold the cheese and croutons. Or, in place of Frutti di mare, add meat and veggies to the whole grain pasta with marinara sauce. Try to avoid carbonara, Alfredo, or parmigiana.

Japanese can be an easy place to dine when you consider the healthy options. Edamame (soybeans), miso soup, seaweed salad, chicken, or seafood yakitori, or Oshitashi (spinach) are all great starters, or a great add on. Salmon or chicken teriyaki, with veggies and less than ½ cup of brown rice is a well-balanced meal. Sashimi (fish without rice) is a better choice than sushi. Avoid dishes with katsu (fried) and tempura (battered) in their name. Sushi made with brown rice is kinder to your pancreas than white rice. Seaweed salad has a fiber that decreases your absorption of fat.

Chinese restaurants will often have a section on their menu for healthy options. Tofu and vegetable soup are usually good choices, as is grilled or steamed chicken or seafood and veggies.  Ask for the brown, ginger, black bean, or garlic sauce on the side and avoid sweet and sour sauces. Crispy and stir-fried should be avoided, along with the crunchy chips served when you arrive.

Healthy Appetizers

  • Shrimp Cocktail: 76 calories for 6 shrimp and 2 TBSP of cocktail sauce
  • Summer Rolls: 101 calories for 2 rolls with 2 tsp dipping sauce
  • Crudités (raw veggies) and dip: 124 calories with 3 TBSP hummus or guacamole
  • 11 large olives: 43 calories
  • Fruit and Cheese: 121 calories for 1 oz. feta with 1 cup watermelon

Appetizer Swaps

  • Instead of Fried calamar; choose Ceviche.
  • Instead of Queso cheese dip; choose Salsa or pico de gallo.
  • Instead of Chicken fingers or wing; choose Chicken satay or grilled chicken.
  • Instead of Butter on bread; choose Hummus.
  • Instead of Loaded potato skins; choose a baked potato with salsa.
  • Instead of Coconut or fried shrimp; choose the Shrimp cocktail.
  • Instead of Slider burgers on bread; choose Lettuce wraps.

Being social and having strong relationships are right up there with healthy foods for your overall health. So, go out, enjoy your meal and your company.

Helpful Tips:

  • Order water or zero calorie iced tea instead of soda or juice.
  • Salads are not always healthy — look at the ingredients, especially the dressing and hold the items that you know are unhealthy. Choose a green salad instead of a Caesar salad; keep the beans, veggies and lean meat, request dressing, on the side and use only half the amount; avoid creamy or Caesar dressing. Vinegar has virtually no calories, so if you ask for olive oil, and use 1 tsp., with the vinegar, plus, hot sauce, you will only be getting 45 calories for your salad dressing, plus, the fats will be healthy. Hold the bacon & croutons!
  • One ounce of cheese is about the size of a domino and about 100 calories.
  • Order a chicken breast instead of a chicken thigh or leg, and always remove the skin.
  • Request less cheese on your pizzas or no cheese on your salads & sandwiches.
  • Request single-patty hamburgers, grilled or char-broiled over breaded or deep-fried. Hold the mayo, mustard, dill pickles, lettuce, onions & ketchup are fine. Opt for a lettuce wrap instead of a hamburger bun.
  • Ask for double veggies in place of rice pilaf, mashed potatoes, or fries: choose sweet potato over white potato-if you choose the white potato, only eat half, and add salsa, or hot sauce, or salt & pepper or sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  • Request no oil or butter on burger buns or grilled sandwich bread.
  • Pizza: Replace the pepperoni or sausage with chicken, ham, lean pork, tofu, or veggies; order thin crust instead of classic pan crust pizza.
  • Order grilled choices instead of fried, whole beans over refried; plus, you may ask for your meats to be grilled dry, but with spices—this prevents to chef from lathering your healthy option with oil or butter to improve the taste.
  • Decide at the beginning of your meal what your indulgence will be, if you are having an appetizer, skip dessert. Don’t forget—-fruit is the new dessert. Ending your meal with a cup of hot Chai tea with Splenda will complete your dining experience.
  • Order fat free frozen yogurt, or gelato instead of ice cream.
  • Swap your glass of wine with a wine spritzer.
  • Replace grilled and sautéed veggies on your burger with fresh veggies, and choose steamed over sautéed veggies.
  • Ask for whole grain bread or pasta.
  • Build a sandwich with whole grain bread, 3 oz. of lean meat, such as chicken, pork, turkey, beef, shrimp, or fish. Add a bunch of fresh veggies and Dijon, or hummus, or make a spread with a ¼ of an avocado. Pair with pickles and fresh fruit.
  • Choose brown rice over white rice; long grain over short-grain.
  • Nix the fried, including batter-fried, deep-batter fried, pan-fried and breaded anything. Sweet and sour, buttered, twice-cooked, super-sized, jumbo, Grande, or king-sized dishes.
  • Avoid mayo, salad dressings, & tartar sauce; or at least order on the side.
  • Order foods that are grilled, broiled, steamed or roasted. Avoid pan-sautéed, for more oil is soaked up during this cooking method.