HEY NON-CLEVELANDERS! The folks living in the CLE know how lucky we are to have some of the country’s finest hospitals in our town. Today via Twitter, the Cleveland Clinic posted their 10 Tips for Smart Dining Out.
As a person maintaining a tremendous weight loss AND as a foodie, my friends constantly ask me how I stay so “slim” while eating out all the time. Here are my thoughts on the Cleveland Clinic’s recent tips:
1. Scan the menu. I’m a menu stalker. Thank God for the internet – the healthy eater can do some reconnaissance work before stepping into a fine dining establishment. That way you can plan your meals for the rest of the day accordingly. If one of these bad boys from Melt Bar & Grilled are in my near future:
…you know I’m eating a salad for lunch to balance it out.
2. Avoid eating foods that are described as buttery or buttered; crispy, sautéed, fried or pan-fried; and creamed, escalloped or au gratin. The tip continues of to recommend other cooking methods such as steaming, broiling, grilling, stir-frying, roasting or poaching – which are the methods that I prefer in taste anyways.
3. If the server brings bread and butter to the table, ask him/her to remove the butter. It’s also OK to ask the server to leave a smaller portion of bread at the table.
Personally, if a loaf of tasty ciabatta bread is placed in front of me, I’m all over it. If you don’t have the willpower, keep it off the table.
Another option: early on in the meal decide if you are having a piece of bread, a glass of wine or dessert. In this case, two out of three IS bad.
4. Order baked potatoes without butter and sour cream, but do ask for a small container of cottage cheese or chopped herbs to sprinkle on your potato.
I’m in the camp that I need my sour cream or it’s not a fully dressed baked potato. All things in moderation – if you want the butter, only use half, but load up on the chives for added flavor instead.
5. If your meal comes with a side, don’t automatically choose French fries.
I always check out the “sides” portion of the menu to see what other side dishes are available. A cup of soup or side salad is always worth the upcharge.
6. Although salad bars sound healthy, steer clear of grated cheese, creamy potato/macaroni salads, bacon bits and croutons.
Ahhh, the salad bar. The dieter’s dirty backstabbing friend. You roll up, seeing all those glorious veggies. Then you met the previously mentioned add-ons and sides, let alone the salad dressings that are usually calorie bombs. My suggestion: grab a small scoop of whatever yummy pasta salad that has your eye that evening and enjoy it – but no second rounds on anything with mayo as a primary ingredient.
As for the salad dressing: get a separate cup for it – don’t put it directly on the salad. Dip your fork into the salad dressing, then stab away at your pile of salad – you’ll have plenty of dressing for what you really need on the fork, I promise.
7. Opt for fat-free, light, low-fat or oil/vinegar-based dressings rather than creamy dressings. For extra wellness points, ditch the dressing altogether and use balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice on your salad.
Be careful with fat-free/low-fat alternatives as they frequently include high-fructose corn syrup.
Recently, I’ve been opting for skipping the salad dressings in favor of more flavorful cheeses: the addition of feta, goat cheese or blue cheese gives enough flavor for my palate.
8. When your food arrives at the table, immediately ask for a to-go container. Pack up a portion of your meal, close the lid and enjoy the rest of your meal another day.
Last Friday night at one of our favorite local joints, our server brought out the LARGEST Greek salad I have ever seen. I immediately asked for a box and enjoyed half of the chicken, feta cheese and black olives the next day in a Flat Out wrap for lunch.
9. Eat slowly and mindfully, savoring the bites and allowing your body to recognize when it is full.
I am a ridiculously slow eater but for this reason. If I am spending money on a fine meal, I want to savor every bit that I have paid for. Dining out isn’t just you paying for a good and service, but it is also an experience. Enjoy every moment, especially the ones revolving around why you are there: the food ones!
10. If you can’t resist dessert, split one with your dinner partner.
There’s no other way to battle that dessert menu at The Cheesecake Factory than with a buddy. Mine is Hans and he LOVES his desserts. I tend to let him pick the dessert so I’m less tempted to eat a selection that I might not be as into as he.
LONG STORY SHORT: To stay healthy, it takes a lot of will power, a good deal of research and the occasional turkey burger to keep sane in the wide world of eating in this town. Remember you can never go wrong with moderation in all things – your waistline will once again thank you for it.