For most people trying to cut calories, keep an eye on cholesterol or simply improve overall health, “Would you like to go out to eat?” can be eight frightening words.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Every meal away from home increases an adult’s average daily calorie count by about 135 calories.”
That probably isn’t good news for restaurant lovers, but there are ways to make sure that extra 135 calories doesn’t end up on the plate.
Small choices can go a long way, according to Michelle Hoyt, 56th Medical Group disease manager and health coach.
“Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and choosing skinless, grilled chicken instead of breaded, fried chicken could potentially cut your calories and fat content by more than half,” Hoyt said. “Changes like that can help your waistline, help you to have more energy and feel better.”
It’s not just what, but how much, is on your plate, she said. That’s why she suggests using the “Choose My Plate” method.
“Using a nine-inch plate, fill half the plate with nonstarchy vegetables,” Hoyt said. “A quarter of the plate would then be for starchy vegetables and a protein source would then fill the last quarter of the plate.”
Examples of nonstarchy vegetables include spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes and broccoli, while starchy vegetables include corn, peas, beans, rice, pasta and other grains.
Some other things to keep in mind while eating out include ordering first and recognizing red flags, said Marisa Moore, registered dietician.
“If you order your meal first, before everybody else starts to order, then you might actually set the tone for the table to order healthier options.”
Moore also suggested ordering grilled, steamed or broiled dishes, instead of those described as creamy, crispy or fried.
Eating healthy can be a challenge, but with the right tools, it isn’t impossible.
“We have to be prepared to face those obstacles” Moore said. “Decide when you’re going to splurge and when you’re going to make sure you stick to a healthy diet.”
For assistance with staying healthy, call the Luke Air Force Base Health and Wellness Center at (623) 856-5902. The HAWC offers cooking demonstrations, commissary tours and nutrition classes.