How to choose healthier options when eating out

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By Zissy Lewin

Healthy tips for eating out

When eating out you’re not only faced with temptation, some seemingly healthy meals are not as wholesome as you may think.

As if eating healthily wasn’t hard enough, the way prices are listed in menu influence what you order. According to a Cornell study, people spend more when prices are listed in numbers as opposed to written out or with a currency sign in front of it.

Another study showed that people are least likely to order the cheapest or most expensive items on the menu. Some restaurants list expensive items as a decoy, to get diners to choose middle priced items, which now seem like a bargain.

For those who frequent fast food or chain outlets, many of which have started adding healthier options, sizes are also manipulated. Super-sizing is more profitable for them. Research published in the Journal of Consumer Research showed that, much like with prices, people opt for the middle sized portion. If you’re watching your weight, avoid that trap by opting for the smallest portion, even if getting one size up seems like a good deal.

Descriptive food items sell better and are rated as being higher quality. Descriptions are important and if you read between the lines, you’ll be able to determine how the food was prepared and which option is diet friendly.

DESCRIPTIONS TO AVOID

Crunchy, tempura, battered, crispy, breaded, crusted, golden and sizzling

  • Real Meaning: Fried
  • Fried foods are the obvious no-no on any healthy eater’s diet. Especially when you consider that most restaurants use partially hydrogenated oil as it can be reheated and reused again. Partially hydrogenated oil contains the worst of all fats – trans fats. This increases your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers your good cholesterol (HDL), raising your risk of heart disease.

Loaded, stuffed, creamy, cheesy, gooey, smothered, melted, rich and velvety

  • Real Meaning: High-Calorie
  • These comfort foods sound delicious and evoke the feeling you get when you eat them. They’re also loaded and stuffed with added calories (and most often not from the good stuff). So it’s better to avoid them.

Teriyaki, BBQ, glazed, sticky, honey-dipped and maple-glazed

  • Real Meaning: High in sugar
  • These sauces are often loaded with sugar – a cause of many health issues. If you’re feeling tempted, ask if they’re made with sugar.

DESCRIPTIONS TO LOOK FOR

Want to know what items to choose? Go for the items described with words like roasted, baked, braised, broiled, poached, rubbed, seared, grilled, steamed, sautéed, spiced and seasoned. They’re prepared with less fat, sugar and added ingredients.

And if all else fails, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your waitron about how dishes are prepared.

 

Author the author

Zissy Lewin is a co-founder of Nutreats, a health and wellness lifestyle website which covers topics spanning body, mind and life. Nutreats believes healthy living is a choice, that a healthy lifestyle is not exclusive, does not have to be restrictive and is achievable. Nutreats exists to help you live your best life.

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