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Prioritize Your Health when Eating Out

By Donna Stark

It's a busy time for the restaurant industry during the holiday season. Many people are eating out, celebrating this festive time of year with family, friends, and coworkers. It's always a special time because you get to try meals you would never cook at home, you have the luxury of not needing to clean up once the meal is over, and you are surrounded by so many others who are just as happy as you feel. Yes, eating out can be fun, but it can also mean letting your healthy habits take a dive, especially if you are eating out more often than usual. Would you consistently overeat at home or indulge in a triple-decker chocolate lava cake after every meal? Probably not, which is why it is so important to stay intentional with your diet if you aren't cooking for yourself.

Restaurant Challenges

Typically, we consume more calories when eating out than when we cook for ourselves at home. And for those who are eating out more nights than not? In addition to that sweet dessert they are buying, they are also buying themselves an increased risk for certain diseases and weight gain. But don't worry! Eating out doesn't have to be so bleak. You can still enjoy those fancy meals and drinks as long as you make some healthy choices. Here are some suggestions.

  • Look for the terms "grass-fed," "organic," and "wild" for better quality and healthier meals
  • Order a salad for your entree and choose healthy ingredients to bulk it up, such as vegetables, beans, and darker greens
  • Browse the menu ahead of time so that you are ready to order the healthiest meal possible without any pressure or distractions from your table
  • Don't be afraid to ask for substitutions if your meal comes with something you would rather not eat (French fries are good, but only in taste ... a vegetable is better)
  • Exhibit extreme restraint by avoiding or limiting what you eat from the bread basket
  • If you aren't having a salad for your meal, have one for your appetizer ... the simpler, the better
  • Ask for sauces and dressings on the side
  • Avoid fried foods 
  • Stick to water ... if you want something bubbly, choose sparkling mineral water with lemon
  • Avoid overeating by asking your server to wrap half of your meal before bringing it out
  • Share dessert if you must get some ... three bites are usually enough to satisfy any sweet tooth ... or choose fresh fruit

Go Ahead, Eat Out!

Focusing on "healthy" while eating out can definitely be challenging, but it's not impossible! With a little savvy, and maybe some extra tricks up your sleeve, your holiday season can stay as festive as you want, even when food is the main centerpiece for everything that you do. So don't let your healthy habits take that dive. Instead, it's time for you to dive into that chocolate tower cake ... with a couple friends of course!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Franklin, Tenn.

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