Savvy Strategies for Healthier Dining Out: Low Carb, Keto, Low Fat, and Lower Sodium Options
Eating out can be a delightful indulgence or a necessity in today’s fast-paced world. But, it doesn’t mean that healthy eating habits need to be sacrificed. By being mindful of low carb, keto, low fat, and lower sodium options, dining out can be both enjoyable and nutritious (Mayo Clinic, 2020).
Low Carb and Keto Choices
Patrons seeking low carb or ketogenic options should focus on protein-rich foods and non-starchy vegetables. Grilled, baked, or broiled meats and fish can be excellent choices (Evert, 2017). A side of steamed or grilled vegetables can provide essential nutrients without an excessive amount of carbohydrates (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Replacing bread with lettuce wraps can also make sandwiches and burgers low carb and keto-friendly (Evert, 2017).
When ordering salads, diners should avoid croutons and high-carb toppings, opting for nuts, seeds, and avocado instead (Bruso, 2018). Additionally, selecting a high-fat, low-carb dressing, such as ranch or blue cheese, can align with a ketogenic diet (Evert, 2017).
Low Fat (the Bad Kind) Selections
Avoiding unhealthy fats, such as trans and saturated fats, can be achieved by opting for lean protein sources and avoiding deep-fried dishes (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Selecting plant-based proteins, like beans or tofu, or lean animal proteins, such as skinless chicken or fish, can help reduce the consumption of unhealthy fats (Evert, 2017). Furthermore, asking for sauces and dressings on the side can allow for better control over the amount of fat and calories consumed (Mayo Clinic, 2020).
To further reduce fat intake, patrons can choose whole grains and fiber-rich foods, such as brown rice, quinoa, or whole-wheat pasta, which can help promote a feeling of fullness while providing essential nutrients (American Heart Association, 2018).
Lower Sodium Options
Dining out can inadvertently result in consuming large amounts of sodium. To minimize sodium intake, restaurant-goers should steer clear of heavily processed foods and salty sauces (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Additionally, requesting that dishes be prepared without added salt and asking for herbs and spices as flavor enhancers can help reduce sodium content (Evert, 2017). Consuming potassium-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables, can also help counteract the effects of sodium on blood pressure (American Heart Association, 2018).
When ordering soups, opting for broth-based varieties over creamy ones can also help cut down on sodium (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Choosing water, unsweetened tea, or other low-sodium beverages over sugary sodas can further support a lower sodium diet (Evert, 2017).
Starting a meal with a healthy appetizer can set the tone for the rest of the dining experience. Instead of high-calorie or high-carb options like nachos, breadsticks, or fried appetizers, patrons can choose lighter fare such as vegetable-based dishes, salads, or protein-rich starters (Bruso, 2018). For example, opting for shrimp cocktail, edamame, or a small mixed greens salad with vinaigrette dressing can provide a satisfying and nutritious beginning to a meal (Evert, 2017).
Portion Control Strategies
Portion sizes at restaurants can often be larger than necessary, making it easy to overindulge (Mayo Clinic, 2020). To prevent overeating, diners can consider sharing entrees with a dining partner, or asking for a to-go container to take half of the meal home for later consumption (Bruso, 2018). Another strategy is to order smaller portions or appetizers as the main course, which can provide a more reasonable serving size while still allowing for an enjoyable dining experience (Evert, 2017).
Mindful Dessert Decisions
Desserts can be tempting, but often come with a hefty dose of sugar, unhealthy fats, and empty calories. Instead of indulging in high-calorie treats, diners can choose healthier alternatives like fresh fruit, sorbet, or a small serving of dark chocolate (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Another option is to share a dessert with a companion, allowing for a taste of something sweet without overindulging (Bruso, 2018).
In summary, making thoughtful decisions while dining out can lead to a healthier and more satisfying experience. By focusing on low carb, keto, low fat, and lower sodium options, as well as considering appetizer alternatives, practicing portion control, and making mindful dessert decisions, restaurant patrons can maintain a well-balanced diet while enjoying their meals.
American Heart Association. (2018). How potassium can help control high blood pressure. Retrieved September 26, 2021, from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/how-potassium-can-help-control-high-blood-pressure
Bruso, J. (2018, March 16). Healthy eating when eating out. Healthline. Retrieved September 26, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/healthy-eating-when-eating-out#appetizer-alternatives
Evert, A. B. (2017, October 4). Eating out with diabetes. Diabetes Forecast. Retrieved September 26, 2021, from https://www.diabetesforecast.org/2017/sep-oct/eating-out-with-diabetes.html
Mayo Clinic. (2020, October 28). Eating out: How to choose healthier menu options. Retrieved September 26, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/healthy-diet/art-20046563