The road to a healthy lifestyle is riddled with holes, from time commitments blocking exercise’s priority status to the processed food that screams at us about convenience at every turn. Eating out is no exception. Without preparing the food ourselves, how can we be sure of what we’re eating and whether it will further our goals for vitality?
Below are five ways to eat clean from any menu. Whether you’re on the road and need something quick or just don’t feel like cooking tonight, keep these tips in your mental back pocket to battle the temptations of the modern restaurant.
1. Order an entrée with the simplest cooking techniques
This may seem common knowledge, but it’s a great reminder. We all know fried isn’t good for us, but braised, boiled, and even BBQ’d food can be indicators of calorie and sugar filled sauces used in the cooking process. Instead, look for steamed fish, broiled beef or lamp, and baked chicken. Then you’ll be sure your food had the least traumatic cooking experience.
2. Limit or avoid sauces, gravy, or dressing.
We all know to ask for dressings on the side so our salad isn’t drowned in oil or cream. But what about that butter-mushroom sauce for your fish, or the brown gravy on your steak? Asking for ANY sauce or gravy on the side or to be removed from your dish will greatly reduce your calorie intake. Plus, you don’t know if the cook made them or squirted them out of a bottle or jar.
3. Use pictures to your advantage
A lot of restaurants offer pictures on their menus. Those pictures can give you a clue as to what you are getting when you order a given meal. The brighter and least complicated dish is less likely to be covered in excessive sauces and have more fruits and vegetables.
4. Don’t rely on the sides section
Sure, they have a side menu in that lower corner and there are a few things that fall into the clean eating category. But if you see a side you like better with the deluxe steak meal, don’t be afraid to ask for it instead of that monstrous side of mashed potatoes that probably came out of a box. In fact, consider doubling up on veggies and skip the simple carbohydrates altogether.
5. Skip the freebie bread, or any excessive carbs
Unless you know for a fact the place you’re eating at makes their own pasta or bakes their own bread, don’t take a chance. Most can’t or won’t, and instead rely on mass-produced options they can buy in bulk.