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10 Tips On How To Order Healthy Food At Any Restaurant

10 Tips On How To Order Healthy Food At Any Restaurant

Next time you go out to dinner, consider this: the average meal at large chain restaurants has 1,128 calories—more than half of what most people should eat in an entire day. As you can probably imagine, many meals are much worse than that. For example, the Chicken and Biscuits at Cheesecake Factory has 2,260 calories!

Perhaps if you grab a meal at your neighborhood diner you’ll be better off? Not so much. A JAMA Internal Medicine study found that the average meal at independent and small restaurants has 1,327 calories. These numbers don’t include drinks and appetizers either, which could add another 500–1000 calories.

Eating deceptively unhealthy foods at restaurants is one of the biggest reasons people struggle with their weight. But it doesn’t have to be. In this article, you’ll learn how to order healthy food at any restaurant.

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1. Prepare ahead of time.

Nearly all fast food restaurants and most chain restaurants post their nutrition facts information online now. Take 5 minutes to plot your meal strategy and you can save yourself 1,000 calories or more.

2. Start with a low calorie appetizer.

Appetizers can make or break your meal health-wise. Olive Garden’s Calamari with Parmesan-Peppercorn Sauce has a whopping 1190 calories, 84 grams of fat, and 2680 mg of sodium—more than an entire day’s worth! Stick with light appetizers like ahi tuna, shrimp (not fried), and vegetables.

3. Choose veggies for side dishes.

Side dishes are another hidden source of calories and fat. Stick with steamed vegetables whenever possible. Ask the waiter or waitress how the veggies are prepared. If they’re fried or cooked with butter, ask if you can get them steamed instead. Most restaurants will have no problem honoring this request.

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4. Order a salad with dressing on the side.

Salads seem like a healthy option, but the truth is most are loaded with an excessive amount of calories, salt and fat. The Chicken Caesar Salad at Outback Steakhouse has 907 calories and 60 grams of fat, for example. To find a healthier salad, order it without croutons or cheese, and ask for a vinaigrette dressing on the side.

5. Stick with red sauces.

Red sauces are usually healthier options than cream sauces. If you’re ordering pasta with your red sauce, ask if they have whole grain or whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta, which makes your blood sugar spike and temporarily blocks your body’s ability to effectively burn fat.

6. Scope out healthy dishes on the menu.

The first thing you should do when you look at a menu is to check for “light” dishes. Many restaurants now offer options that are “reduced calorie,” “reduced guilt,” or “under 600 calories.”

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7. Choose water and unsweetened iced tea.

As mentioned, drinks can put a damper on an otherwise healthy meal. Soda, in particular, is nothing but empty calories with a lot of added sugar your body doesn’t need. Stick with water, tea, and coffee. And if you’re drinking booze, have a glass of wine or beer. Skip the fruity drinks, which are high in sugar and empty calories.

8. Pick healthy protein like chicken, turkey or fish.

When in doubt, order a dish with chicken, turkey, or fish. Chicken sandwiches at fast food restaurants (minus the sauce and cheese) are a safe bet. And grilled or broiled fish at most larger restaurants are usually healthier options.

9. Share with your friends.

There are going to be times when you indulge, and that’s perfectly fine. Use this simple strategy to reduce your calorie intake though: share a dish with your friends. This is especially useful if you love dessert. Some desserts at restaurants have more calories than your dinner (like the Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake at Cheesecake Factory, which has 1,680 calories). Split it between four people and you’ll avoid a lot of damage.

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10. Ask the server for a copy of the nutrition facts information.

This is such a simple way to order healthy food at restaurants but no one does it. When you get to the restaurant, ask the server or manager if they have a copy of the nutrition facts information for the menu. Even if they don’t, they will likely recommend a healthier dish for you. Don’t be afraid to ask.

As you can see, eating at restaurants can make or break your health goals. Put these tips into action today and you’ll start reaping the benefits immediately.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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