Canadians tend to eat out about 5 times per week, spending a third of their food budget away from home. Eating out provides a chance to celebrate or socialize, experience new foods or just an excuse to avoid cooking. However for many, fast foods and restaurants can be an obstacle to maintaining a healthy weight. Dining out poses many challenges to a healthy lifestyle:
If you eat out on special occasions, eat what you want and enjoy the meal. However, if eating out is a more regular occurrence, it is important to choose wisely. It isn’t impossible to maintain a healthy weight and eat out but it will require some thought and planning.
Consult the graph to see how you can make healthier choices at different types of restaurants.
|Healthier Choices||Choices that are high in fat, sugar or salt|
|Chinese||Vegetable dishes, dishes steamed or boiled, wonton, hot and sour soups, dumplings||Sweet and sour or deep fried dishes, egg and spring rolls, fried rice or noodles.|
|Japanese||Teriyaki or sukiyaki dishes, sushi, sashimi.||Tempura, deep fried foods.|
|Greek||Greek salad with dressing on the side, kebabs, hummus, tzatiki, pita.||Spanakopita, ribs, baklava.|
|Thai||Rice paper wraps, kabobs, satay, ginger or garlic dishes, fish, clear soups.||Deep fried rolls, coconut milk, peanut or curry sauce, coconut rice.|
|Mexican||Fajitas, plain soft taco, Mexican rice, black beans, salsa, pico de gallo and gazpacho.||Nachos, sour cream, taco salad, hard shell taco, guacamole, refried beans, chimichangas.|
|Indian||Lentil dishes, naan, mulligatawny or lentil soup. Fish or chicken prepared in masala, tandoori or tikka style plain rice, dahl, chutney.||Samosas, ghee, deep fried foods, coconut soup, meat, fish or poultry prepared in malai or korma style.|
|Italian||Pasta with marinara, marsala, tomato sauces, cacciatore dishes, minestrone soup. Ask for items grilled. Bruschetta with little oil, vegetarian pizza.||Garlic bread, alfredo, cream or cheese sauce. Parmiagiana dishes, Caesar salad and risotto.|
|Burger places||Veggie burgers or beef burgers with tomato, pickle, lettuce and onion, grilled chicken on a bun with no mayo or special sauces.||Burgers with cheese, special sauces and bacon, chicken nuggets or breaded chicken or fish burgers.|
|Pizza places||Vegetarian, ham and pineapple. Choose thin crust or whole wheat crust if available.||Pepperoni, sausage or bacon topping, extra cheese, ranch style sauces, sour cream toppings.|
|Deli or coffee shops||Lean or roasted meats or seafood, vegetables, low fat muffins, whole grain bagels, coffee and tea black or with skim milk.||Sauces, mayo, sausage meats, deli salads, cream cheese, cream soups, coffee with cream, cheese breads, cinnamon buns or baked goods.|
Amy Parker is a Registered Dietitian who regularly writes food and nutrition articles. She graduated from the University of Alberta and completed a one year internship in the Calgary Health Region. She currently specializes in prenatal nutrition and is passionate about helping her clients have the healthiest babies possible. Her other areas of interest include weight loss, childhood obesity and healthy food that tastes good too!
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