When I was a kid, going out to dinner at a restaurant was a treat. It was something we did maybe once or twice a month – usually to celebrate a special occasion, like a birthday, graduation, anniversary or something like that. We got to enjoy some good service, good food and the company of our family.
Besides saying a small prayer and eating a little something healthy before you go out (so you are not as hungry when you get there), here are some of the tips I use when going out to eat:
the eney meeny miny moe – It all starts with picking the right place to eat. By making the right choice of restaurants, you really open up more options once you are in the restaurant. Ideally, finding a restaurant that serves fresh, locally grown, organic food is the best option. But if that is not an option, stay away from places you know have a lot of fried foods and pick ones that you feel at least have some healthy choices.
the menutranslatenator – Okay, obviously I’ve been watching too much Phineas and Ferb, but that Dr. Doofenshmirtz has got some awesome lines. So, let’s say you could not find a healthy restaurant and you ended up in a chain restaurant or something along those lines. No problem, you will just need to translate the menu. Stay away from words like fried, breaded, battered, buttered, gravy, creamy, saucy…and, for heaven’s sake, please stay away from words like big, large, grande, hearty, huge and ginormous. Stick with things like fresh, seasonal, light and steamed.
the rico suave – So you could not find anything seasonal, fresh and light on the menu? Well, you may need to move to the “the rico suave tip” (formally known as “be a pain in the butt” tip, but it went through a name change, for obvious reasons). It is about charming your server. They are there to make you happy, so you will give them a nice big fat tip. So they should be open to any questions about how their food is prepared. But be nice about it, you don’t want them spitting in your food because you are being a pain in the butt (not that that ever happens). Anyway, I would not nit-pick about everything, just see if they can slightly alter or substitute some of the bad for good. Usually, all restaurants will have some sort seasonal vegetables (if they don’t, go back to the eney meeny miny moe and start over) and I am sure they will substitute your greasy fries or fatty saucy side dish that comes with what you are eyeballing with some steamed fresh veggies or a side salad.
the chop su·ey (CHäp ˈso͞oē) – Still no luck? Well, maybe just go for “the chop suey.” Nope, not the dish, but the karate chop method. If you are with someone, order something close to being healthy and just split it. Or order it split and take the other half home or just leave it there (better there than on your hips or stomach or butt or where every you carry your fat reserves). Sometimes we will order a side of steamed veggies and another dish and then just split the two dishes. Either way, you are cutting the bad in half.
the vegas baby – Don’t want to share? I see how it is! Okay, so they say when you go to Vegas you can be whoever you want to be. So, pretend you’re in Vegas, pretend you’re a vegetarian. Most restaurants will have at least one vegetarian dish and that will most likely be a healthier option than the others. At least you are cutting significant caloric intake and animal fats by ordering in this fashion.
the when harry met sally – Okay you’re a tough cookie. Still have not found anything? If all else fails, I go with what I call “the when harry met sally” – order a salad, but with the dressing on the side. Generally, salads should be health, but restaurants can take something healthy like a salad and destroy the calories, sodium, fat and sugar content through the dressing. So just order it on the side and dip your fork for some flavor now and then. You will shouldn’t use even a fraction of what they bring you.
Final tips, stay away from the bread & appetizers and order unsweetened tea or water to drink. And, if you need desert, fresh fruit is a great option.