Healthy eating is a way of life—one that offers countless benefits for your heart, your waistline, and even your friendly gut bacteria (the ones that work hard to support digestive and immune health). But what about when it comes to dining out? If a trip to your favorite restaurant has a way of testing your resolve, here are four simple tips to help you stay on track:
- Stick with the Basics: Just like at home, focus on eating plenty of protein, healthy fats, non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits, along with nuts and seeds. Saying no to breads, pasta, fries, and sweets is easier when you fuel your body with the good stuff first.
- Opt for a Salad (with added protein): Salads have come a long way from plain old iceberg lettuce and a cucumber or two. Nowadays most restaurants offer a salad with added protein in the form of grilled, chicken, steak, fish, or shrimp. Just make sure the meat or seafood is not breaded, and ask your server to hold the croutons or wonton strips.
- Get a Sandwich, Hold the Bun: Another great option is to order a sandwich without the bun, along with a side salad. Instead of eating the side salad first, place the sandwich fillings on top of the salad and enjoy! Remember to choose sandwich fillings that aren’t breaded or fried. Most restaurants will be happy to accommodate with a grilled option.
- Go for the Protein Entrée with Veggies: This is an excellent option, and one you will find available at most restaurants. Grilled steak, pork, chicken, fish, and shellfish are commonly offered as dinner entrées. Simply swap the potatoes, French fries, rice, or other starchy options with greens or whatever non-starchy vegetables they have to offer. Again, steer clear of breaded meats and seafood, as well as thick sauces with added flour.
The next time you dine out, just remember these four tips. You will see how easy it is to stick to your healthy eating habits no matter where you go!
More than a third of U.S. children and teens are overweight or obese, a reality that places a heavy burden on both their physical and mental health as they grow into adulthood. As experts nationwide focus their efforts on improving nutrition standards and advocating a healthier lifestyle for American kids, a new study offers hope that we may be on the right track.
Researchers from the University of Arkansas recently looked at the impact of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) on a sample of participating schools in their state. Since the 2008-2009 school year—when the program was first introduced to Arkansas schools—obesity rates have dropped from 20% to 17%. This is a notable decline in a state with some of the highest childhood obesity rates in the country.
The FFVP is a federally assisted program that allows for fresh fruits and vegetables to be provided for students free of charge throughout the school day. Aimed at encouraging smart eating habits in children and promoting long-term health, the program targets elementary schools with the highest free and reduced price enrollment. And, according to study co-author Rodolfo Nayga, it may be one of the simplest and most cost-effective strategies of its kind.
“By this measure, our results suggest that the fresh fruit and vegetable program is a very cost-effective obesity prevention tool,” said Nayga in a recent news release. “Moreover, prevention of childhood obesity is in addition to the other nutritional benefits that come from increased fruit and vegetable consumption.”