Dining out can be healthy and delicious if you follow these 5 simple tips

Stock image from Pixabay, St. George News

FEATURE — Cameron Payne, owner of Twisted Noodle Café in St. George, is showing his community that dining out can include delicious healthy options.

Healthy Habits Restaurant Recognition Program seal of approval from Southwest Utah Public Health Department | Image courtesy of SWUPHD, St. George News

After working for the “Biggest Loser” reality show for eight years, Payne realized that St. George was a hub for active lifestyles, but there weren’t a lot of options for healthy eating.

He wanted to create a place where people could enjoy good food that would be delicious, nutritious and wouldn’t leave them with that full, weighed down feeling.

Five years later, Twisted Noodle Café is a prime example of that vision, and now many others are showing that dining out does not mean unhealthy eating. That is why the Southwest Utah Public Health Department created the Healthy Habits Restaurant Recognition Program.

5 healthy tips for eating out

Keep track of your calories

Calories can add up, especially when dining out. It might seem like no big deal ordering a cheeseburger, fries and a Coke, but there goes over 1,000 calories – half of the recommended daily total.

When you are calorie conscious and look at the nutritional value of what you eat, you become more aware of what is going into your body. Maybe you get a meal that is less calories or eat half and save the rest for later.

How is the food prepared?

Is the food you are going to order fried (often called “crispy”) or can you get it grilled, steamed or baked? This can make a big difference in the nutritional value of what you are ordering.

Substitute your grains

The carbohydrates in grains can add up! Some restaurants even offer lettuce wraps as a substitute for bread. Some menus display this option, but if they don’t, it never hurts to ask. You can also optimize your grains by choosing whole grain rice, bread or pasta.

Evaluate your side options

Stock image from Pixabay, St. George News

What side options are you choosing when you dine out? Do you lean toward the French fries, chips and bread, or a side salad or bowl of fruit? Maybe next time, when asked what side you want, stop and think, “What would be the best choice? How would this affect my calorie count? Is this helping me get a balanced amount of food groups in my diet?”

Choosing a side salad or fruit instead of the bag of chips might be less appealing at first but in the end you will be happy you made that healthy choice.

Get your dressings and condiments on the side

Ever ask for your dressing on the side? It’s second nature just to expect dressing and condiments to be served on your food, but that doesn’t allow you to decide how much you really need. You might enjoy the meal with less sauce.

For more information about the Healthy Habits Restaurant Recognition Program, click here.

Written by BAILEE WILLIAMS, health educator for Southwest Utah Public Health Department.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2020 issue of HEALTH Magazine.

Copyright © Southwest Utah Public Health Foundation, all rights reserved.

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