Step into any food court or even restaurant with the family and chances are you will be surrounded by tempting foods that can potentially sabotage your healthy eating plan. Rather than avoid eating out altogether, HEALTH meets with a food designer who shares her tips on healthy eating out of the home.
Nancy Bhatia is a lifestyle and food designer and also a Co- Founder/Product Designer/ Chief Nutritionist at Munch Box. She uses a few check points to decide the best restaurants to visit to ensure she does not go overboard with unhealthy eating. Here are a few things she advises…
1. Look at the plate after food. If it has too much oil on the plate, that place is certainly a NO on the list.
2. If you have had Indian food, it is certain you may have used your hands while eating. Look at the fingers after eating food. If the nails have turned red or yellow, certainly food color has been used along with excess fats. This place again is a NO on the list then.
3. You can tell by the look of the raw vegetables used either for salad and or for wraps and rolls if they are freshly cut. If the veggies look dry and little firm, it is not freshly cut. You certainly do not want to eat any food that has been cut and kept open and exposed to air for long.
4. Look for places that have live cooking stations or at least they make your meal in front of you. This way you can control the visible additives to your food like the butter, cheese, and mayo.
5. If you are out for a fine dining meal, follow the food course. Start with soup, select a grilled or cold appetizer and then settle for main course. This plays a psychological effect on your brain. It tells you that you have been eating for a long time and that your stomach is now full.
6. Sharing is caring specially when eating out. Outside food is generally heavier to digest due to its fat content. Thus always share meal for one by two. This way you will be able to control your portion sizes and a bit of your pockets too.
7. When it comes to kids, making healthy choices becomes even more difficult because when kids want something they just want it. Select a meal for kids that has at least one source of fruit, one of milk or protein and one of carb. For example, a vegetable labaneh sandwich, or replace the sodas with fresh fruit juices.
8. Let the kids indulge over cupcakes. As parents you make smarter choices for them. Select options that are gluten free, contains natural fruits and nuts, contains no icing and are small in size.
9. Read the menu carefully. Any food item that uses the word ‘crispy, pan fried, dipped, thick, creamy’ generally has a lot of fat and sodium. Instead look or words like pan-tossed, steamed, grilled, and baked or even roasted while selecting what to eat from the menu.
10. Know your cuts and sides well. Ask for leaner meat cuts like chicken breasts instead of thighs. Look for white meat or fish instead of red. Also make sure you choose a side of veggies or perhaps grilled potatoes. Mashed potatoes contain a lot of butter and salt and certainly fried potatoes are a total no.
11. When buying packed foods for kids, look at the nutrition information carefully. Pay attention to the serving size and the total weight of the product. Most of the times, the serving size is smaller than the total weight of the product. Ensure the sugar and fat percentage is not more than seven percent per serving.