When eating out is your only option

Be in control of how you eat when your away-from-home activity prevents you from cooking at home.

A job, vacation or some other arising calamity can force us to eat all our meals at a restaurant. This can result in over eating, consuming too much salt, sugar and fat, and increase our chance of developing some preventable illnesses and disease. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some tips from Michigan State University Extension to help control the negative effects of eating out too much.

1. Consider portion control, most restaurants serve too big portions, resolve to asking for the “doggie bag” before eating, taking half the meal home and save it for later.

2. Determine to eat meals that have variety, such as low-fat protein, vegetables, fruit, grains and dairy.

3. Avoid or limit fried foods, in addition to adding too many calories and salt, the digestive system can become taxed.

4. Frequent restaurants that serve more fresh ingredients, like fresh veggies, salads, fruit, etc.

5. Reserve all-you-can-eat places for special occasions.

6. Learn to control the add-ons, like salt, dressing, sauces and creams, etc.

7. Limit desserts, if you have a sweets craving, try fruit.

8. Be aware of the empty calories; food and drink that don’t have high nutritional value but have higher calories, like sweetened cereals, donuts, cakes and pastries, soft drinks and alcohol, etc.

9. Train yourself to eat until you feel satisfied and then stop.

10. Remember to drink lots of water to keep all bodily systems working efficiently.

Hopefully this situation is temporary. But, if you find yourself eating out more than cooking a healthy meal at home, remember that your body will reward you later, proportionate to what you invest in it today. If this concept is too much to think about now, or the reality is too far away. Ask yourself, “Would I like a bowl of fruit on my counter in my later years? Or a bowl of medication?”

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