By Yasmine Cheang, Student at UH Manoa
After a long day of work or school, we are tired but it’s time to make dinner. We can’t help but eat out instead. Nowadays, Americans dine out more often than ever, says a report from the USDA Economic Research Service.1 Sadly, foods away from home are usually not nutritious. However, we can learn how to eat healthier even when we’re far from home.
Choose restaurants that offer nutrition information for their menu items. Pick those that are low in calories, unhealthy fats, salt, and added sugar. You may also tell if a food is healthy or not by how it’s made, as mentioned in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) Complete Food and Nutrition Guide.2 For example, a serving (~5 oz) of fried chicken contains 277 more calories (3 times more) than a serving of baked chicken.3,4 These calories can add up and lead to weight gain easily.
Order healthy foods— vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and fruits.2 An example of a healthy meal may include steamed broccoli, steamed brown rice, grilled salmon, and fresh oranges. Watch the amount of sauce as well.2 For example, you can request the dressing to be on the side for your salad.2 This way, you can decide how much you will need. Other requests are low sodium, low/no sugar, and so on.
Remember, the goal of healthy eating is to eat fewer calories, less unhealthy fats, salt, and added sugar.2 Now, you can enjoy your food when you dine out without feeling guilty!
- Saksena MJ, Okrent AM, Anekwe TD, et al. America’s Eating Habits: Food Away From Home. Washington, DC: Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture; September 2018. EIB-196. https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/90228/eib-196.pdf?v=1045.6. Accessed March 26, 2019.
- Duyff RL. Eat Smart Away from Home. In: Duyff RL. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 5th Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company; 2017. 275-314. https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uhm/reader.action?docID=4586355. Accessed March 26, 2019.
- USDA Branded Food Products Database. Full Report (All Nutrients) 45325523, Baked chicken, UPC: 021130104154. US: The National Agricultural Library; July 2018.
- National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Full Report (All Nutrients) 05007, Chicken, broilers or fryers, meat and skin, cooked, fried, batter. US: The National Agricultural Library; April 1, 2018.
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