For many people, eating a healthy diet is easy at home. You make sure the shopping trolley is overflowing with cruciferous vegetables, wholegrain carbohydrates and lean protein while sprinting past the fizzy drinks and desserts. But eating healthy when eating out can prove to be a challenge.
Of course, you have the option of healthy juice bars if you just feel like a refreshing drink or natural energy boost. But what happens when you’re out and about and all the temptations of Japanese, Greek, Thai, Italian or good old-fashioned pub food is there, calling out to you seductively from the menu?
Well, do not fear. With a little information in advance of the next table’s ‘fish n chips’ arriving and making your mind up for you, you can make health conscious choices no matter which cuisine you dine from.
STEAK – a small amount of red meat can help dilate blood vessels because of arginine, an amino acid found in red meats. Portion size is important, though, as a little really goes a long way. Choose the leanest cut – rump, sirloin and fillets – and you don’t need to feel guilty after this outing to your local. This is a great option, it also means that you don’t have to just juice something up to stay healthy.
SIDE SALAD – you’re already familiar with side salads, but are you eating them? Even this small increase in your consumption of raw vegetables is going to increase your intake of folic acid, vitamins C and E, lycopene, and alpha- and beta-carotene. That’s good news!
HIGH FAT STARTERS – yes, they look tasty, but they won’t fill you and are often more saturated fat than beneficial nutrients. Mussels in a creamy sauce… mushrooms in breadcrumbs… ribs… chicken wings… onion rings… scampi… just say no!
CHIPS – duh! Opt for a jacket potato instead and, as long as you don’t drown the poor thing in butter, you’ll be making a much healthier choice.
TOM YUM GOONG – this shrimp soup is around 100 times more effective at inhibiting the growth of cancerous tumors than other foods analyzed, and explains (in part) South East Asia’s low cancer rate.
STIR FRIES – Thai stir fries are made with sesame oil, which can lower cholesterol, and lemongrass, which helps detoxify organs.
GREEN CURRY – there’s a villain hiding in green curry that counteracts the good associated with ingredients like coriander, lemongrass and chili… it is coconut milk, which is full of saturated fat and makes this meal an unhealthy choice.
ICED TEA – made incredibly sweet to counteract the hot foods, which is bad news for your teeth.
PRIMAVERA – any meal described as ‘primavera’ means it is based around lightly steamed or boiled vegetables including peas, broccoli and courgette.
MOZZARELLA – if you’re a cheese-fiend, go for this option, it’s higher in calcium and lower in fat than Parmesan and taleggio.
CREAMY SAUCES – instead of alfredos and carbonaras, go for an arrabiata sauce, which is rich in the antioxidant lycopene and also boosts the metabolism, great for anyone wanting to lose a few pounds.
SPANAKOPITA – three times the power in this vegetarian pie that combines spinach, feta and olive oil, helping you ward off heart disease and cancer.
DOLMADES – that’s ‘rice and onions in vine leaves’ to you and me, but these bundles of joy are low in calories and high in vitamins C, E, B6 and K.
MOUSSAKA – even the healthful phytonutrients can’t save this bowl of saturated fat, which combines egg, milk, cheese and minced meat… all fried and ready to attack your body.
SASHIMI – raw tuna, salmon and mackerel will have you singing the omega-3 song – just watch portion size. Important as they are, they’re still ‘fatty’ acids.
MISO SOUP – tasty, low in fat, and high in B12 and zinc to boost your immune system.
SOY SAUCE – yes, it’s as compulsory as having moussaka at Greek restaurants… but you’ve seen where that’s been getting you! Soy sauce is high in sodium and can increase your risks of high blood pressure – only indulge if there is a low sodium version available.
CHICKEN KATSU – (and anything else deep fried) There’s enough choice when eating Japanese to never have to resort to these dishes. Instead, opt for the flash-fried, grilled, boiled, or raw options.
Many people attempt to avoid eating out when on a healthy eating mission, which is a huge shame. There are so many cuisines out there to experience, and it’s possible to give your body the nutrients it needs even in the most tempting places.