How to Eat Healthy When Dining Out

How to Eat Healthy When Dining Out

Whether you’re traveling or simply going out for the night, plan to stick to your diet routine at restaurants. Since you have less control when someone else is preparing your food, you’ll need to be diligent about selecting the right items and controlling portions.

Here are some tips to keep you on track:

1. Select a suitable restaurant. Casual or full service, you’ll want to make sure your destination has options that fit your eating plan. Unless it’s a salad bar, skip all-you-can-eat buffets which prompt guests to fill up and take more than they need. Shared plates or tapas style restaurants are fine with a group so long as you order a couple of vegetable dishes.

See our article Dietitian Suggestions for Healthy Fast Food Options for drive-thru advice.

2. Peruse the menu ahead of time. Look at menu options online and make a decision before going to a restaurant where the atmosphere and aroma might lead you astray. Perhaps keep your favorite restaurants’ to-go menus at the ready to browse at a moment’s notice. If you can’t see the choices ahead of time before arriving, pause and take a moment to really look at the full menu.

3. Notice key descriptors. Look for clues that less fat was used in cooking such as grilled, poached baked or roasted proteins. Avoid crispy or breaded items that are probably fried. Savory listings may be higher in sodium. And it goes without saying that rich, decadent and indulgent descriptors are red flags for high calories!

4. Order carefully. You have a better chance to stick to your plans if you aren’t influenced by what others are having, so order first. Take note of side dishes offered elsewhere on the menu, so you can ask for healthier substitutions.

5. Skip the extras. You’ve been eating well up to this point, right? So you don’t need the bread, rolls or tortilla chips brought to the table. You can even ask the server not to leave any. If your table mates want you to indulge in appetizers and desserts, politely decline, unless it’s strictly fruit or vegetables.

6. Limit portions. One strategy is to ask for take-home box to be brought when your meal is served. Place half your food inside and put it aside. Skip the free refills, which make it tempting to ‘get your money’s worth,’ or you might pay a far higher price in extra calories and have difficulty maintaining your weight. Savor your food by chewing slowly, and you’ll find it’s easier to eat less.

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This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

How Soon Can You Eat Pre and Post Workout? | Q+A

How Soon Can You Eat Pre and Post Workout? | Q+A

Question:

How many hours before and after working out until I can eat?

– Nino

Answer:

Of course, you CAN eat anytime. The optimal time to eat around working out depends on what else is going on, what exercise you are doing, and what you intend to eat. It’s a matter of getting fuel to the muscles (but not an excess) and clearing your gut for comfort. Simple carbohydrates and lean proteins are more easily digested so they are good choices close to working out, within 30-60 minutes beforehand. On the other hand, solid fats and fibrous starches take a while to break down in your GI system, so you’ll need to allow multiple hours for those to digest.

If you sprint out of bed for a 6 am run, I’d suggest a sports drink to sip during the run and a breakfast immediately following. If you hit the gym an hour after rising, perhaps you should drink a smoothie as soon as you wake up and eat a small breakfast afterward. For a quick weight training workout during a lunch break, you’ll want a little easily-digested energy first (e.g. applesauce or soft pretzel) followed by a simple meal afterward, like a sandwich. You may not need a snack prior to an afternoon workout unless it’s been more than 3 hours since your mid-day meal. So if you finished lunch at 1 pm and plan to workout at 5 pm, then I’d suggest a protein drink an hour before at 4 pm. On the contrary, a 4-5 pm workout after a late 2 pm lunch should be fine.

For evening workouts, an afternoon snack is a must if dinner is pushed to after exercise. Suitable mini-meals in the afternoon include tuna salad and crackers, a bowl of soup, Greek yogurt & granola, or hummus with pita and carrots. If your workout is at the tail-end of your day, be sure to have your last meal 2-3 hours prior to the workout and a simple recovery option like chocolate milk afterward.

Examples:

1) whopping lunch, 5 pm workout.

It may take several hours to fully digest and absorb all those calories, so your tank would still be over half full in 4-5 hours. Just have a sports drink handy during your workout in case you feel a dip in energy, and plan for a small dinner afterward.

2) balanced lunch, late 8 pm workout.

You may want to snack twice in between, or opt for a small meal at 5 pm. For the former snack option, stash at-work options like trail mix in your desk, a pre-made wrap in the fridge, or buy an apple and peanut butter crackers from the vending machine. If you choose the latter small meal option, a pre-made chicken pasta primavera salad, a whole wheat wrap with turkey and avocado, or mini English muffins pizzas will provide a few hour’s energy.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Recommended Reading

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Pre Workout Nutrition Advice for Type 2 Diabetes | Q+A

Pre Workout Nutrition Advice for Type 2 Diabetes | Q+A

Question:

What are some of the best foods to eat before you work out if you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes?

– Dionne D.

Answer:

Those with Type 2 Diabetes usually have normal digestion and absorption, whereas their cellular uptake of sugars from the blood is hindered. Your body’s individual response to carbohydrates may be different than others’. That said, it’s safe to say that large volumes of carbs, especially simple sugars are a bad idea. You’ll want to stick to smaller portions of easily-digested carbohydrates or have complex carbohydrates earlier in the day to allow for their metabolism and to provide needed fuel to working muscles.

Consider some of the following suggested pre-workout snacks (assuming full meal was 3+ hours ago):

An hour before

  • Rye crisps thinly spread with nut butter and topped with apple slices
  • Half a turkey sandwich
  • Cup of Greek yogurt with berries and sliced almonds
  • Hummus with raw veggies and whole wheat crackers

or

30 min before

  • Mix protein powder in milk for instant shake
  • Handful of gold-fish crackers
  • Frozen sugar-free pudding pop
  • Half toasted English muffin with margarine

If you take insulin, be sure to check your blood sugar level and adjust your intake accordingly to anticipate the effect from your workout. Pack a juice box in your gym bag or locker to have on hand in case your blood sugar level drops.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

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Ask our Dietitian

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Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Vegan Meal Planning Answered | Q+A

Vegan Meal Planning Answered | Q+A

Question:

Do you have any advice on vegan meal planning for someone trying to gain weight by working out and lifting, and no cardio?

– Dalila M.

Answer:

Vegan guidelines for athletes work for building mass, too. Be sure to keep your calories up and pay attention to your pre-workout snack and recovery nutrition. See our articles Fuel your Workouts to Maximize Your Results and  Eat Like This to Help Maximize your Recovery and Results for tips on eating to support your workouts.

You can consume 1.4-2.0 gm protein per kilogram body weight (recommended by the International Society of Sports Nutrition) from a diet rich in soy, beans, lentils, grains, nuts, vegetables and complemented by vegan protein powders.

While hundreds of vegan meal planning websites exist, look for those with .edu or .org extensions for advice without product sales. I like the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s “21-Day Vegan Kickstart” with complete recipes and the Vegetarian Resource Group’s articles for athletes and teens on topics like vegan weightlifting and gaining weight.

For more personalized meal planning, consider seeking assistance from a registered dietitian nutritionist. You can find one at http://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Recommended Reading

Ask our Dietitian

QA_icon

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Testosterone & Diet: How Do They Relate? | Q+A

Testosterone & Diet: How Do They Relate? | Q+A

Question:

I just turned 65, no health issues at all. I read and hear a lot about ways to produce testosterone. What is truly the best way for a man my age to eat or drink the right stuff to produce testosterone so I can once again regain my physique?

– Butch

Answer:

You’re on the right track when you suggest that diet can affect declining testosterone levels as men age, but other factors have more effect. These factors include weight, activity, sleep, stress, and medications. If your doctor finds you to have low testosterone levels, he/she may prescribe drugs or prohormones (like DHEA).

For diet, the components to focus on are:

Limit added sugar from your diet. (High insulin levels are linked to low testosterone.) Eliminate obvious sources (desserts, syrup, sodas) and replace refined sugars with whole fruit for sweetening, such as raisins on oatmeal instead of brown sugar.

Eat healthy fats. Include olives and olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut and coconut oil, palm oil, salmon and grass-fed beef in your diet.

Supplement with Vitamin D if you are deficient.* Good food sources include tuna, salmon, Vitamin D-fortified milk, whole eggs, beef liver, and beans.

Supplement with Zinc if you are deficient.* Good food sources include oysters, crab, lobster, lean beef, beans, and yogurt or kefir made from raw milk.

* Your physician can test your Vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) and zinc levels.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Recommended Reading

Ask our Dietitian

QA_icon

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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