Healthy Hacks: Eating Healthy When Eating Out (First of 2 Parts)

By Justinne Lou Go, RND

 

SOME common complaints I’ve heard from clients are, “I can’t cook!” “It’s impossible not to eat fast food with my lifestyle.” “Fast food is all I can afford when eating out.” With lifestyles getting busier and busier, eating out is becoming more inevitable. And though more restaurants and cafes are addressing the need for healthier options, the market is still very much saturated with foods that barely nourish us.

Busy lifestyles shouldn’t keep us from putting health on our top priority. We always have a choice and the wise choice is to make health a top priority unless you prefer to pay for hospital bills and subsist on medications. There is no such thing as “too busy” if we know our priorities well. In this modern age where fastfood companies are competing aggressively at the stake of our health, we need to be vigilant and refuse to fall victim to their tactics and our circumstances. Remember, fastfood is not our friend.

Whether you’re a student, a young professional, a busy mother, or a busy executive, here are some tips that you can arm yourself with for the times that you cannot possibly bring your own home-cooked food or time is not on your side:

1. Anything but deep-fried.

This has to be the golden rule when eating out — anything but deep-fried! This especially applies to fast food dining where fried chicken, French fries and breaded porkchop are staples. The thing about deep-fried food is not actually that it soaks up a lot of oil from the cooking, but it’s the fact that heating oil to a very high temperature changes the oil’s chemical composition making it carcinogenic to the body.

2. Veggie hunt.

If you’re extremely hungry and “unli” is on your mind, vegetables definitely have to take that spot. Vegetables are the most important carbohydrates (“carbs”) we need because they have most of the nutrients that we can’t get from other foods — vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrients! If there’s one food you can eat as much of without having to worry about calories, it’s vegetables. Find a restaurant or stall that serves veggies with their meals and keep them on tab — like My Greek Taverna! Loading up on vegetables means loading up on nutrients and fiber. The fiber in vegetables is what’s responsible for making you feel full for longer and plus points for digestion too as it aids in bowel movement.

3. Skip the soda.

In the smoldering heat these days, I know it might be hard to say no to soda but try to remember that you can always have healthier cold treats after your meal such as a fresh fruit salad with yogurt or a cold serving of fresh buko juice! Don’t be fooled by the P5 difference in meal prices at fastfood joints just because it already comes with a drink. Choose a la carte meals and ask for water instead.

4. Keep it real.

Food that is made from scratch is always best. In the case of eating out, gourmet isn’t necessarily the only way to go. Carenderias and mall food courts are our best bets especially for those on a tight budget! Even though vegetable dishes from these places can be loaded with MSG, we’ll just have to count on the fiber and nutrients we can still get from these vegetables rather than settling for a burger-and-fries meal.

5. Sharing is loving.

If all else fails and there is no healthier choice, share your meal if the serving size allows. Sharing the calories is a way to love yourself and to love your friend. And hey, you share the cost of the meal, too!

For Part 2 of this Healthy Hacks series, I will be sharing tips for healthy eating on a budget so, watch for it! I’m sure that’s something a lot of us can relate to, even myself. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive and I’ll show you how.

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