As grocery prices continue to rise, the price tag for cooking a holiday feast might equal or outweigh the cost of dining out for some families. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends planning your restaurant meal before you leave the house to make dining out nutritious.
“Before going to a restaurant, check out its menu online. Look for foods that meet your particular dietary needs,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Kimberly Snodgrass, an Academy Spokesperson based in Detroit, Mich.
“Restaurants offer a variety of healthful food options, so there is usually something for everyone if you know what you are looking for,” she says.
“For those with specific dietary needs, review the menu with a keen eye. Look for words like ‘grilled,’ ‘broiled’ or ‘roasted’ which means the food is cooked with less fat,” Snodgrass says.
“Select an entrée that comes with healthful side dishes and taste your food first before reaching for the salt,” she says. “Restaurant portion sizes can be large, so consider a family-style meal in which everyone shares different dishes. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy an array of foods and possibly have some leftovers to take home.”
“It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full, so give your body time to let you know if you really want to continue eating,” Snodgrass says.
“Eat the foods that make you happy, but make sure you pair them with healthful foods such as a lean source of protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy to improve the nutrition of your meal,” she says.
“Practice mindfulness,” Snodgrass says. “Take your time, be present and enjoy your food. Use this opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions with your friends and family.”
“Don’t skip meals to ‘make room’ for your dinner. Eat at your regular mealtimes to keep your hunger in check,” Snodgrass says. “Consider eating a healthful snack before you head to the restaurant to tide you over until your meal arrives.”
“Keep yourself hydrated during the holidays by drinking water throughout your meal. This will also help you to slow down and digest your food,” she says.