American households spend more than 40 percent of their food budget on foods prepared outside of the home, up from 25 percent in 1970. Not only are we eating out more, but we now have the ability to super size everything or choose the “king size” serving, which makes it difficult to make healthy choices when eating out.
Although it is possible to eat healthy away from home, studies done by the USDA Economic Research Service have shown that the food choice of the average person when they eat out will generally have more calories and fat than at home meals. We are more likely to eat fried foods and rich deserts than if we prepared our meals at home. And in today’s world, eating out has become the norm as opposed to the occasional indulgence.
Healthy eating is just like anything else in life worth having. There must be a conscious effort with a little work. Take control and put into practice one of the follow strategies to help you make healthy choices when eating out.
EATING OUT STRATEGIES:
- Think about what is not important to you and ask to leave it off your plate. For example, sometimes I want a hamburger, but don’t really care about coleslaw or fries that come with it. However, if I get it, I am more likely to eat it because it is there.
- Take out the mayo, butter or cream sauce. Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter about these little hidden calories that are often forgotten.
- Get a double portion of the vegetables in place of the heavy starch.
- If you love a special dessert, cut back on the meal to save those extra calories.
- Ask to cut the meal in half and place in a to-go box before the food is served.
Without question, it is more challenging to maintain a healthy weight when you have less control over what you eat. If eating out has become a habit for you, try to limit the number of times you eat out each week and plan your meals at home. Then choose your one strategy to ensure you make healthy choices when eating out.