Many patients have found themselves very capable of eating properly at home but quickly fall into old habits when it’s time to eat out. During the past 10 years or so, however, restaurants have become more aware that many of their patrons are on restricted diets. There is absolutely no reason to feel uncomfortable about ordering a baked potato and a salad in a fine restaurant. In fact, you can and should, make special requests for foods that are more appropriate to your needs. Keep the following tips in mind when you order a meal:
- Entrees covered with sauces, as well as creamy dressing, thick soups and casseroles should be avoided because they are usually rich in fat. Unfortunately, most desserts in good restaurants are terribly high in saturated fats. Ask for a dish of fresh fruit instead or, as a treat, share a single “sinful” dessert with others.
- Avoid fried foods. Choose baked, broiled, boiled, roasted, steamed and grilled.
- Club soda, herbal tea, and decaffeinated coffee are good choices of beverages at a meal, as is a glass of ice water with a wedge of lemon or lime.
- Sourdough, whole-wheat, rye and French breads are lower in saturated fats than biscuits, white bread, and dinner roles.
- Salads are available almost everywhere. Order salads with reduced-calorie salad dressing. Choosing your meal from the salad bar is a good source of good foods (omitting the occasional fat-laden salads that are sometimes there!).
- Ask to have salad dressings, sauces and gravies omitted, or “on the side”.
- Look for items labeled “heart-healthy” on the menu
- Don’t be afraid to ask how a dish is prepared.
- Substitute low-fat choices (steamed vegetables for creamed sauces, baked potatoes for french fries, etc.).
- Avoid items described with terms like battered, creamed, au gratin, scalloped, breaded. Good terms include au jus, poached, steamed, baked, etc.
- Pizza: choose thin-crust, avoid meat toppings and get small amounts of cheese.
- Pastas: good choices if accompanied by red marinara sauce or simple vegetables. Avoid cream or meat sauces.
- Sandwiches: choose lean and not processed meat, get extra lettuce and tomato, and hold the mayo.
Dr. Donald G. Vidt, M.D.
Dr. Vidt is a board-certified specialist in Internal Medicine, and is a Professor of Internal Medicine at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, Ohio.