Eating Out & Staying Healthy- A Restaurant Guide To Healthy Eating 3

Eating Out And Staying Healthy- A Restaurant GuideEating Out & Staying Healthy- A Restaurant Guide To Healthy Eating

 

In this the second installment of our Eating Out Guide, we cover by cuisine some great tips for making healthy choices while eating out at restaurants. (If you haven’t already, you can read the first installment here). Choices that allow you the pleasure and convenience of being able to order food without the concern that eating out will cause you to forsake your goal of eating healthy and getting into shape. The guides are organized by cuisine and include practical and easy to understand rules for everything from American to Thai cuisine. Use it as a handy way to make better choices while eating out and be sure to book mark it or print it out for future reference. An ebook version of this blog post will be available in the near future to all newsletter subscribers, complete with actual sample menu selections so if you have not already done so please feel free to join my mailing list here. Thanks in advance for reading my blog posts and I hope this guide helps you enjoy the important social act of eating out.

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Eating Out & Staying In Shape- Restaurant Cuisine Rules for Healthy Eating

There is such a wide variety of different cuisines to choose from when you eat out. Each has a range of dishes that you can order with little in the way of guilt but you have to know the rules. Sometimes there are things that you have no control over, like sodium levels. Many restaurants pre-season their foods so they can’t always accommodate you by whipping up a salt free version, but at higher end establishments I’ve found them almost always willing to do just that. The following guides will help you navigate the maze of many different food choices from different cuisines. I couldn’t fit them all but just about most of the main ones are covered. The rules apply to just about every type of food known to man in the first place. They are categorized so you can skip ahead to the cuisine you are interested in learning about but do take the time to read them all as each contain valuable lessons on how making better choices in terms of your food. Here is the list of cuisines covered:

 

American Cuisine

Chinese Cuisine

French Cuisine

Health Food & Organic Cuisine

Indian  Cuisine

Italian Cuisine

Japanese Cuisine (Highly Recommended)

Mediterranean Cuisine

Mexican Cuisine

Thai Cuisine

Spanish Cuisine

 

 

 American Cuisine- Eating Out & Staying Healthy At American Restaurants

Eating out and staying healthy at American Restaurants

The steak is fine but the fries are a no-no.

American cuisine is an incredibly diverse culinary set of foods that range from barbequed meats to pies and seafood plates. Given the wonderfully different traditions (from New England clam chowder to California rolls) that create what we know today as American cuisine, it’s hard to narrow it down to a couple of foods.  Nevertheless there are some recommendations as to what you should and shouldn’t eat if you are trying to keep your calories in check when eating at American themed establishments. The great part about American cuisine is the meats and seafood.  You usually can’t go wrong with any such selections if you get a vegetable dish or salad to go with it. Steakhouse standards are usually fine as are grilled selections- shrimp included if it isn’t smothered in butter. Ribs are usually okay if you only have them very infrequently and even then it’s only a good idea if it isn’t smothered in sugary barbecue sauce- which for most takes the fun out of eating it in the first place. Common side orders in many restaurants are home cut fries and they are best avoided due to their high fat, sodium and calorie content. Selections that come with bread like hamburgers are fine as long as they aren’t loaded with salt and you leave the bread on the side. If you can get a leaner meat like bison for your burgers that makes it even better. It goes without saying that the obviously unhealthy additions like mayonnaise are a no-no and the same goes for most commercial forms of ketchup which are high in high fructose corn syrup and sugar. American cuisine is known for its dessert selections- apple pie, cheesecake, ice cream and the like and as we mentioned in the first part of the guide dessert is best avoided unless it’s fruit. Not great news, I know but it is the easiest way to stay on track. The practice of only having a small bit doesn’t help you learn how to appreciate foods that aren’t overly sweet which is an important lesson that you need to learn in order to be successful long term in controlling your weight and maintaining good health.

American Cuisine Rules For Staying In Shape

  • Ask for sauces on the side, have appetizers only if you are going to be active later or if it is earlier in the day.
  • If it’s fried skip it unless it’s all they have. If you must eat fried chicken remove the skin before eating it.
  • If you must have an appetizer stick with salads without dressing  or cheese added or protein foods like chicken, fish, etc that preferably aren’t fried.
  • Have water as your main drink- you’ll save a lot of calories that way and skip the wine list and the beer! If you must have something to drink make it an unsweetened ice tea.
  • Don’t overdo it. If you eat too much of anything, even the healthiest items on the menu you can consume enough extra calories that will go right to your midsection. Always keep 1/3 of your stomach empty (especially at buffet type restaurants) and think in terms of having a quality dining experience and enjoying your food instead of eating to the point of being full.
  • Learn to do without dessert if they don’t have fruit on the menu.  The taste for sweets is learned and like anything you learned it can be unlearned over time if you keep trying.
  • Enjoy yourself!

 

Chinese Cuisine-  Healthy Eating Out At Chinese Restaurants

A Guide To Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Chinese RestaurantsIt’s important to note that most of what passes for Chinese food here in the United States is actually American cuisine created by Chinese immigrants who migrated to the country and formulated recipes that would be appealing to the American public. Since they are just about everywhere, we will cover these selections as well as the traditional Chinese fares which for the most part fall into different categories based on what part of China the food comes from. Cantonese cuisine is on the most popular when traditional Chinese food comes to mind and it consists of range of edible meats including duck, chicken as well as more exotic choices like organ meats, chicken feet, snails and frogs. As alien as many of these foods may be to Western taste buds, they are actually not bad from a health point of view. Cantonese foods tend to be steamed, shallow fried, boiled, braised or deep fried and with the exception of the fried foods everything  else tends to be good choices as long as the sauces stay on the side.

Dim Sum- which means ‘touch your heart’ and refers to a series of small different dishes that give you an opportunity to taste several different foods. Picks include rice based dishes, dumplings, buns with different meats inside, stir fried vegetables and soups. As much as the choices may not always be ideal calorie wise for someone trying to lose weight, the dishes are pretty small and if you stick to the foods that are freshest and not fried, you should be okay – as long as you don’t overdo it and keep the sauces on the side.

Other regional Chinese cuisines are Hunan which is usually spicy foods that are either stewed, roasted, braised or smoked with an array of vegetables and spices and Szechuan which uses a lot of garlic and peppers in addition to peanuts, sesame pastes and ginger for flavoring.

 

Chinese Cuisine Rules For Staying In Shape

  • Ask for sauces on the side, have appetizers only if you are going to be active later or if it is earlier in the day.
  • Choose grilled and steamed dishes over fried ones. Chicken, fish, shrimp, duck and even choices typically thought of as unhealthy such as beef and pork are fine in moderation as long as it isn’t fried or swimming in a high sodium and high fat sauce.
  • ‘Crispy’ means fried so avoid anything on the menu in this category.
  • If you can try to stay away from the more American Chinese food dishes like fried rice, General Tso’s Chicken, fried noodles and sweet and anything with sweet and sour sauce.
  • Load up on the many vegetable based dishes that are always a part of Chinese Cuisine.
  • Have water as your main drink- and feel free to have some green tea if it is provided while you wait for your meal. It actually does have some mild fat burning qualities.
  • Don’t overdo it. Think in terms of having a quality dining experience and not paying to fill your stomach to the point of bursting.
  • Learn to do without dessert. They serve some orange slices at the end of a meal at real Chinese restaurants (along with a fortune cookie that you will carry home for the kids) and that should be more than enough!
  • Enjoy yourself!

 

 

French Cuisine- Eating Out & Staying Healthy At French Restaurants

A Guide To Eating Out & Staying Healthy At French Restaurants

There are lots of healthy options at French restaurants

Given that my better half hails from Paris and that I majored in French when I was in school, it goes without saying that I have a soft spot for French cuisine. Most would immediately think that all French foods are unhealthy as images of wines and cheeses with rich meats and extensive desserts tend to come to mind when French cuisine is mentioned, but there are many healthy selections. As I mentioned in the first installment of the Eating Out Guide- if you believe that there is nothing healthy on the menu you are far more likely to not see the healthy choices that are right before your eyes and here we will dispel the myth that all French food is bad for your waistline.

At French restaurants there is always a wide variety of meats and vegetables and usually all you have to do is to have the sauces on the side. French sauces are a wonderfully rich and flavorful tradition that gives signature luxuriance to the meals found at French restaurants. That being said most Americans don’t realize that the average French person doesn’t eat what you would find in a restaurant on a regular basis in the same way everyone in Italy doesn’t eat pasta every day.

There are many different regional differences to French cuisine but for the most part you can always find something that won’t make you go overboard calorie wise. Salads and vegetables are always available as appetizers as and make excellent starting choices. As for entrees, seafood is always on the menu as are grilled meats ranging from different kinds of poultry to beef, lamb and rabbit. In moderation, any such protein foods are fine as long as they aren’t lathered in sauce. For dessert fruit salads are often available and one of the best aspects of French cuisine is that the portions are not usually as astronomical as American cuisine which makes it much easier to not overdo it.

French Cuisine Rules For Staying In Shape

  • Ask for sauces on the side whenever possible.
  • Have appetizers only if you are going to be active later or if it is earlier in the day unless you can get a salad, some vegetables or a low fat protein food of some sort.
  • Have water not wine as your main drink- you’ll save a lot of calories that go a long way in ensuring that your liver isn’t burdened with having to break down the alcohol in your bloodstream so it can carry out one of its key functions which is to metabolize your fat stores!
  • Don’t overdo it. One of the central tenets of French cuisine is the act of enjoying your meal in very much the same way you would enjoy music or a work of art. Think in terms of having a quality dining experience and savoring what is on your plate without trying to fill your stomach to the point of bursting.
  • Have fruit for dessert if it is available and if not then learn to do without it. Not having dessert ever killed anyone while one would find it hard to argue the contrary.
  • Enjoy yourself!

 

 

Health Food & Organic Cuisine- Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Health Food & Organic Restaurants

Eating out at health food and organic restaurants

Smoothies, juices and protein shakes are common items at health food restaurants but they aren’t necessarily healthy.

Today, there are a number of restaurant popping up that claim ‘Health Food’ as their cuisine type and as is the case with all things in the world of men, some are better than others. The good ones aren’t simply well dressed fast food restaurants but use whole and unprocessed ingredients and organic fruits, vegetables and meats. Good health food restaurants also won’t have much in the way of fried foods, but a large selection of grilled, steamed and baked dishes, usually made from scratch.

The good news is that at such a restaurant you can usually get whatever you like made to order without the extra sodium you’ll tend to find as standard in most regular restaurants and that you’ll have a nice variety of choices. The bad news is that just because it comes from a health food restaurant doesn’t mean that the food you are getting is going to help you with your goal to get in shape. Many offer lower calorie versions of junk food that are still far too high in calories, sugars or fats to qualify as a healthy choice. Low fat pizza, smoothies, protein shakes, muffins and the like shouldn’t be your selections regardless of how many  healthy adjectives are used to describe it on the menu. Similarly, with lower fat foods like chicken breasts, bison and hummus be careful if it comes with bread of any kind as it can be a source of some unwanted calories- even if it is in the form of a thin wrap. Remember as well that the laws of thermodynamics always apply and won’t changes because the restaurant has a reputation as a great place for healthy meals. If you overeat anything it can make you fat, so go easy on the portion sizes and enjoy the wider selection of guilt free choices at healthy food joints in moderation.

 

Health Food Cuisine Rules For Staying In Shape

  • Many healthy food restaurants still serve foods with sauces so always make a point to ask for them on the side or have your order without them.
  • Have appetizers only if you are going to be active later or if it is earlier in the day unless you can get a salad, some vegetables or a low fat protein food of some sort.
  • Have water not protein shakes! They aren’t natural foods and you are better off without them! (Read my article on protein shakes here)
  • Skip the smoothies and the vegetable juices- even if it is freshly blended. You wouldn’t eat 12 carrots at one sitting, so what is natural about drinking that many in a vegetable juice? Our bodies are designed to eat fruit and vegetables- not drink them, as the fiber will help us not overeat them or have a large insulin spike in response to their sugar content. Smoothies and juices don’t have those qualities and can make it easy to overindulge and have some extra layers packed around your stomach.
  • Don’t overdo it. Just because the food is organic/fresh or healthy doesn’t give you free reign to eat until you are stuffed. On the contrary with lower fat foods you have to always make a point to stop yourself as you will naturally want to eat more of it to make up for the smaller calorie and fat count. The rule of thumb is to keep one third of your stomach always empty and you should be fine as long as you are only consuming solid foods.
  • Enjoy yourself!

Indian Cuisine- Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Indian Restaurants

A Guide To Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Indian Restaurants

Curried dishes can be a great choice when eating out at Indian restaurants

Aside from the fact that my great-great grandfather came from India, Indian foods are very much staples back in Trinidad where I grew up and I have a strong fondness for curries and other Indian dishes. Like many Asian cuisines, many think of Indian foods as a bit of a splurge diet wise, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Curries for the most part are actually pretty innocuous as far as calories go and are a simple and delightful way to add flavor to foods when you are dieting and trying to lose weight. The ingredients of cumin, coriander and turmeric are not only sodium free but also very low in calories and are fine additions to both meat and vegetable dishes. While most of the selections thus far offer quite a number of choices for carnivores, Indian cuisines have many more picks for those wishing to avoid meat. You will always have a wealth of vegetable plates to choose from.

Like many cooking styles Indian cuisine has a variety of different regional variations and ways of preparing their meals, but for the most part the staples  are rice, lentils, mung beans, split peas, an unleavened bread like dishes such as roti and naan and a variety of vegetables. Northern Indian cuisines use peanut oils to cook their foods, while coconut oil and milk are more popular in the west and the south. Tandoori barbecued meats are common in northern Indian cuisines along with an ample range of spices and herbs. Ghee is an important part of Indian cooking and is derived from butter. It is very high in fat and modern versions are made with hydrogenated vegetable oil and should be avoided as much as possible. You can’t really go wrong with many of the items on the menu of a traditional Indian restaurant as long as you keep the sauces to a minimum- although as I said before curries are usually fine. Naan bread and roti are okay if eaten in moderation and only before you are going to do some form of exercise or activity. If it is later in the day it would be wise to skip it.

 

Indian Cuisine Rules For Staying In Shape

  • Ask for sauces on the side, have appetizers only if you are going to be active later or if it is earlier in the day.
  • Choose protein foods as appetizers, especially if you are going to be eating a lot of carbohydrate type foods such as naan and roti with your entrée.
  • Have water as your main drink- you’ll save a lot of calories that way.
  • Don’t overdo it. Think in terms of having a quality dining experience and not paying to fill your stomach to the point of bursting.
  • Learn to do without dessert. Like anything else, the taste for sweets is learned and anything learned can be unlearned with time.
  • Enjoy yourself!

 

 

Italian Cuisine- A Guide To Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Italian Restaurants

Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Italian Restaurants

Spaghetti isn’t the only dish served at Italian restaurants- there are lots of healthy choices

First and foremost it should be noted that Italian cuisine isn’t only pizza and pasta. Both are on the verboten list of most trying to get into shape but it really isn’t representative of the extremely healthy and varied choices available at finer Italian restaurants. Pasta is cause for concern calorie wise as it is not too far away from being a simple sugar and has very little in the way of fiber to prevent a major insulin spike when you eat it. The lack of fiber also makes it hard for you to know when you have eaten too much as you probably have already gone far overboard by the time you start feeling full. Add to that the high calorie and high fat sauces and cheese and you are indeed looking at a perfect recipe for extra notched on your belt- but Italian foods aren’t only about pasta.

Here in New York there are more Italian restaurants than any other individual ethnic cuisine, and more often than not the more expensive the restaurant the more variety away from pasta and pizza dishes you’ll see. At any reputable Italian restaurant you’ll always have a great selection of salads and vegetables- especially as an appetizer. For main courses seafood is usually a safe bet with any sauces on the side so you can add it later if you so choose to do so, most of the poultry and meat plates are reasonable choices as well. Give all the cheeses a wide berth and do the same for the rich sauces and you will always be fine.

 

Italian Cuisine Rules For Staying In Shape

  • Ask for sauces on the side, have appetizers only if you are going to be active later or if it is earlier in the day.
  • Choose protein foods as appetizers.
  • Have water as your main drink- you’ll save a lot of calories that way.
  •  Stay away from the pasta, but embrace the seafood
  • Don’t overdo it. Think in terms of having a quality dining experience and not paying to fill your stomach to the point of bursting.
  • Learn to do without dessert. Like anything else, the taste for sweets is learned and anything learned can be unlearned with time.
  • Enjoy yourself! (Seeing a trend here?)

 

 Japanese Cuisine- Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Japanese Restaurants

Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Japanese Restaurants

Japanese restaurants offer some of the best choices for healthy eating out.

Japanese food has been a staple in my diet ever since I moved to New York. In terms of cuisine, it is usually the easiest place to find healthy and wholesome foods that are in line with my diet. So much so that I have a bit of a mantra- whenever in doubt- go Japanese! With such a wide assortment of fresh fish, vegetables and sashimi you simply can’t go wrong if you know what to get.

The first rule of thumb for eating out or getting takeout from a Japanese restaurant is to order sashimi and not sushi. Sushi is made with rice and can often contain unwanted levels of sodium and added sugars whereas sashimi is simply raw fish. While there is no such thing as a perfect food- raw fish certainly fits the bill as a good low calorie and high protein food that will not only fill you up but ensure that you aren’t taking in any added sugars, salt or additives. You can also add some wasabi and ginger for some added flavor without any guilt as they are both very low in calories. You can have sashimi at any time of the day and it gives you an eating out option even on the strictest phase of any diet. My personal training clients have thrived on it for years with great results but as good as sashimi may be, all things must be eaten in moderation. You can overeat anything if you aren’t too careful and be mindful of the mercury levels of some of the bigger fishes used in sashimi, like salmon and tuna. Having it once in a while is fine, but not but not every day. Apart from sashimi, traditional Japanese restaurants offer a plethora of other great choices with meals that cater easily to vegetarians as well. Getting to the other items on the menu at Blue Ribbon Sushi there is truly a huge selection of plates that fall into the good food category. You will always be on track if you have a vegetable based appetizer with the sauces on the side but be wary of the use of soy sauce- which is extremely high in sodium and not what I would consider a part of any healthy food list. Miso soup contains a lot of sodium and soy as well, which I advise people to either avoid completely or eat in very small amounts and you are better off having a salad for starters anyway.

For main courses, you can have sushi on occasion if it is for lunch or you plan on being active afterwards. A general rule during the week is to have rice dishes on days you exercise or plan on being really active and have vegetables on the off days when you won’t need as much energy. All of the seafood, poultry, vegetable and meat selections are usually fine as long as they are not fried- which eliminates the tempura dishes. Teriyaki dishes as well should be given a wide berth as they contain soy sauce, sake or mirin, as well as high levels of sugar or honey. Instead go for the steamed dishes and ask for any sauces to be either not brought with your meal or placed on the side. To summarize, Japanese restaurants are prime locations for anyone looking to eat healthy but be sure to check the Health Inspection Grades and the reputation of the restaurant you go to if you are going to have sashimi or sushi. Having raw fish that isn’t kept at the proper temperatures or prepared correctly can cause severe illness- so don’t pick up your sushi or sashimi at the supermarket- especially in summer! Stick with the choices only from reputable Japanese restaurants.

 

Japanese Cuisine Rules For Staying In Shape

  • Ask for sauces on the side, have appetizers only if you are going to be active later or if it is earlier in the day.
  • Choose protein foods and vegetables as your appetizers, as most Japanese restaurant menus offer a wide range of them.
  • Skip the sake and have water as your main drink- you’ll save a lot of calories that way and have no regrets!
  • Don’t overdo it. Even though foods like sashimi are low in calories you can still overeat. Think in terms of having a quality dining experience and not paying to fill your stomach to the point of bursting.
  • If they don’t serve fresh fruit then skip the dessert. Like anything else, the taste for sweets is learned and anything learned can be unlearned with time.
  • Enjoy yourself!

 

Mediterranean Cuisine- A Guide To Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Mediterranean Restaurants

Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Mediterranean Restaurants

Hummus is fine when eaten in moderation

Thanks to the commercial success of many of the Mediterranean diet books most of us are aware that the emphasis on seafood, beans vegetables and olive oil and garlic infused meals create healthy items on any menu. One of the problems is that it is hard to define Mediterranean cuisine as a whole as it encompasses so many countries- from the African Middle Eastern countries like Egypt and Tunisia to Israeli, Greek and even French and Italian cuisines. That being said most Mediterranean restaurants here in the United States tend to have what many would term Middle Eastern food- but appellations aside they do offer great healthy choices for eating out or ordering in.

 

Hummus is perhaps one of the standards these days for many eating at Mediterranean restaurants and it is a spread made from made from cooked, mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. The sodium content can sometimes be high but at higher end restaurants it tends to be a bit lower. Hummus is a great food choice that’s high in fiber and protein but you must be aware that it isn’t a low calorie food and it is easy to overdo it. Usually used as a dip with pita bread or with  falafel, grilled chicken, fish or eggplant. Aside from falafel- which is a deep fried patty made from chickpeas or fava beans- having hummus with the other selections is fine. Combined with pita it creates a complete protein for anyone following the vegetarian route but be aware as well that pita bread does come with some added calories and can be easy to overeat. I usually recommend that people avoid breads altogether but if you must have it then do so in moderation. Other hallmarks of Mediterranean cuisine are variety of lamb, goat, yogurts and cheeses. Most restaurants have roasted meats on the menu which are always good choices but the cheeses and yogurts should be on the side if you want to keep your diet in check. There are also an assortment of vegetable dishes- okra, lentil pilafs, eggplant and wheat germ plates that are fantastic foods for anyone not wanting to eat meat. As good as the food may be, do keep in mind that you can overeat anything- so be vigilant of your portion sizes and get all sauces on the side so you can be in control of how much of it you eat- if any.

 

Mediterranean  Food Rules For Staying In Shape

  • Go easy on the hummus and have it with grilled chicken, fish, eggplants or vegetables instead of with pita breads.
  • Ask for all sauces and yogurts on the side
  • Goat cheese is still cheese so skip it if you want to keep your calories in check.
  • Choose grilled foods over fried ones. Lamb and goat are fine from time to time as long as you don’t overdo your portions.
  • Stock up on the array of vegetable plates.
  • Keep in mind the time of the day- feel free to have an appetizer if it is in the middle of the day, but load up more on  vegetables if it is later in the day or on days when you will be inactive.
  • Have water as your drink- you’ll spend less and your liver and your waist will love you for it.
  • Always leave feeling like you could still eat a little more, especially with easy to eat foods like hummus. Never leave a restaurant feeling stuffed!
  • Enjoy yourself!

 

Caribbean Cuisine (See rules for Spanish and Indian Foods)

 

 

Mexican Cuisine- A Guide To Eating Healthy At Mexican Restaurants

Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Mexican Restaurants

Mexican restaurants offer a variety of healthy choices

Mexican restaurants are often thought of as places where healthy food isn’t on the menu and nothing could be further from the truth. As a rule, most quality Mexican restaurants offer a range of wholesome food choices that you can have while staying within the boundaries of eating healthy- you just have to make sure that you don’t overdo it. Of late, chain restaurants like Chipotle have opened across the country with a variety of healthy selections on the menu doing much to show that Mexican cuisine does indeed have a lot to offer those who are health conscious. Be mindful though that not everything on the menu falls into that category, even though it might be marketed as such.

To start or as your main course, any chicken or meat based salad is fine- but you have to forgo the cheese, the dressing and the guacamole if you want to keep your calorie count down. If you must have salsa- ask for it on the side as opposed to drowning your food in it- that way you can moderate how much of it you eat as it can be a source of added calories and unwanted sodium. Things like chips and guacamole are obviously not great candidates nor are soft tacos with cheese and sour cream added to it. If you must have a taco, have it custom made without anything added to the protein selection except for beans, corn and or rice. It’s a bit of a splurge so don’t have it too often and only if you plan on being active afterwards. Burritos can be a problem since everything is wrapped up but burrito bowls are fine as you can ask for the sour cream, guacamole and salsa to be omitted or on the side. Again these are foods you have before doing something- not late night dinner choices and be sure not to go overboard with it.

At many Mexican restaurants, steak is usually on the menu as is poultry, ceviche, seafood salads and soups. As long as the salt levels aren’t too high and you stay clear of the usual suspects like quesadillas and nachos you should be fine. While I am not a huge corn advocate, if the restaurant serves organically grown fare then corn tortillas should be okay in moderation.

 

 

Mexican Food Rules For Staying In Shape

  • Ask for sauces on the side, freshly made salsa is okay in moderation if it isn’t too salty, as is guacamole. Guacamole is a bit high calorie, but not a problem if you don’t overindulge
  • Skip the cheese laden foods.
  • Choose grilled foods over fried ones. Chicken, fish, shrimp, and even beef and pork are fine as long as it isn’t fried and you don’t overdo your portions. Keep in mind that  ‘Crispy’ means fried!
  • Have the corn tortillas- it has higher fiber content than wheat products and is gluten free.
  • Keep in mind the time of the day- feel free to have an appetizer if it is in the middle of the day, but load up more on salads and vegetables if it is later in the day or on days when you will be inactive.
  • Have water as your drink- you’ll spend less and your liver and your waist will love you for it.
  • Always leave feeling like you could still eat a little more, especially with easy to eat foods like tortillas. Never leave a restaurant feeling stuffed!
  • Enjoy yourself!

 

Spanish Cuisine- Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Spanish Restaurants

Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Spanish Restaurants

Seafood dishes are great healthy choices for eating out at Spanish restaurants but go easy on the rice if you aren’t going to be active later on

By Spanish food, I will include not only the foods of European origin but also the foods found in restaurants with cuisines from South America and the Spanish speaking Caribbean as well as they tend to be similar in many ways. The Spanish influence on the colonies is quite evident and for the most part Spanish food tends to have an impressive assortment of plates. From seafood, paellas, and other shrimp dishes to steaks, chorizo and rice dishes. As always you can hardly falter if you choose to have a protein or vegetable based appetizer and a main course of seafood, poultry or meats with the sauces on the side.

Rice dishes such as paella are common throughout most Spanish cuisines with rice and bean plates such as arroz con gandules more common in the Caribbean islands. All are fine choices when eaten in moderation and with an eye for what you are going to do next. A good way to look at it is that starchy carbohydrates like rice, potatoes and the like are energy foods you eat before doing some form activity, so if you plan on not doing anything after your meal you should go easy on them and have more fibrous carbohydrates like vegetables instead. On your training days rice dishes are fine- but have veggies on your off days or if you are eating later in the day and plan on going to bed afterwards. It is a myth that eating and then going to bed will make you fat as the time of the day that you eat doesn’t influence whether you store calories or not. What is important is that at the end of the day most people are more likely to overeat and not do anything with the excess calories ingested- so make it a rule not to load up later in the day.

Tomato based dishes are fine as well as long as they are not too high in sodium as are shrimp plates. There is much said about shrimp being an inherently unhealthy food and while I personally don’t eat it due to the way it is farmed and the harm such farming does to the environment, I see no reason why it can’t be consumed in moderation as long as it isn’t fried or smothered in butter even though it has a high fat content. With more Caribbean Spanish foods, pork dishes such as pernil and chuletas are fine as long as you limit yourself but beware of the fried dishes, especially ones like maduros- fried plantains which are highly addictive!

Eating anything in excess can make you fat- so be especially aware if you are having tapas that while you are enjoying the ambiance and perhaps the company that you may not know when enough is enough if you don’t pay attention to how much you are eating. And of course be sure to avoid alcohol as much as you can.

 

Spanish Cuisine Rules For Staying In Shape

  • Ask for sauces on the side, have appetizers and rice dishes only if you are going to be active later or if it is earlier in the day.
  • Choose protein foods like grilled seafood and poultry as your main courses with other meats and shrimp as occasional selections.
  • Frito or frita means fried as does crispy- so stay away from anything on the menu with these words in it.
  • Have water as your main drink- you’ll save a lot of calories that way and skip the alcohol!
  • Don’t overdo it. Think in terms of having a quality dining experience and not paying to fill your stomach to the point of bursting.
  • Learn to do without dessert unless they serve fresh fruit. Like anything else, the taste for sweets is learned and anything learned can be unlearned with time. (Read my article here about controlling your eating habits)
  • Enjoy yourself

 

 Steakhouse (see American Cuisine)

 

Thai Cuisine- Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Thai Restaurants

Eating Out & Staying Healthy At Thai Restaurants

Ask for the sauces on the side and you will always have something healthy to eat at Thai restaurants

The first thing that strikes you in any Thai Restaurant is the abundance of peanut and curry sauces. Curry is actually fine and used by many while dieting to add flavor to their food while shedding extra pounds. The peanut sauces are okay as long as you are able to moderate yourself. As high calorie as peanuts can be, our bodies don’t metabolize those calories the way it does other foods so a little here and there should be okay. Most Thai restaurants and Asian restaurants in general boast an abundance of seafood and healthy protein dishes to choose from. Appetizers menus tend to be filled with protein foods, salads and vegetables which are always good choices.  As always, don’t have appetizers if you are eating later in the day or are not going to be terribly active after your meal, (see my article- Managing Your Carbohydrates  for more information about food timing).

In Thai cuisine, there is an array of dishes with beef, pork, chicken, duck and fish with the occasional exotic foods like frog, crab and muscle tendons (which aren’t bad at all if you are adventurous enough to order it). In general, the roasted and barbecued meats are always good choices as are the steamed seafood selections like red snapper, tilapia, striped bass crab and shrimp. Vegetable dishes abound as well and curries and peanut sauces are fine as well as we mentioned before in moderation. If possible though try to get it on the side and dip you food in it for flavor as opposed to having your main course swimming in it. That way, you’ll cut the calories down a bit. Rice dishes are fine for active days while vegetables should replace them for dinner or later meals where you aren’t going to be doing much after your meal.

 

Thai Cuisine Rules For Staying In Shape

  • Ask for sauces on the side, have appetizers only if you are going to be active later or if it is earlier in the day.
  • Choose protein foods as appetizers.
  • Have water as your main drink- you’ll save a lot of calories that way and skip the sake!
  • Don’t overdo it. Think in terms of having a quality dining experience and not paying to fill your stomach to the point of bursting.
  • Learn to do without dessert. Like anything else, the taste for sweets is learned and anything learned can be unlearned with time.
  • Enjoy yourself!

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Eating Out & Staying Healthy- The Rules

 

Kevin Richardson is an award winning health and fitness writer, one of the most sought after personal trainers in New York City and creator of Naturally Intense High Intensity TrainingTM. Get a copy of his free weight loss ebook here

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