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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.

More by this author

Scott Christ

Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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