By Allan Richter | Edited by Elena Doxey
Study after study shows that we tend to eat much healthier at home than in restaurants – but today’s busy schedules are forcing families to eat on-the-run. This grab-and-go lifestyle is driving families to dine out more than ever. As a result, restaurants have revamped their menus to offer healthy eating out options – with an emphasis on “kid-friendly” choices.
So, why the change? It’s just good business. Restaurants are looking to meet consumer demand for healthy eating out options. And consumers are willing to pay more for those options. The steady increase in health-focused eateries that feature locally sourced and organic foods are cropping up all over the country.
There’s no cookie-cutter approach to maintaining a healthy diet when it comes to eating out. Consumers need to adjust their eating habits, depending on what kind of restaurant they are in. Whether you say, ‘Hold the mayo,’ and choose whole grain bread at a sandwich shop, or opt for a grilled option from a healthy-choice menu at fast-food establishment, more restaurants are willing to accommodate customers by tailoring orders to their health needs.
Even better news is that the guessing game over calorie content is almost over. If you haven’t already noticed, many restaurants are now required to print calorie counts on menus, and to make other nutritional information available upon request. These changes are part of the menu labeling requirements set by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Over the next few months, we will be seeing more restaurants participating as the compliance date has been extended until May of 2018.
Utilize Smaller Portions
Dining out with children can be one of the biggest tests of healthful eating at restaurants. Experts suggest you should order soups, appetizers and salads to give children a healthier alternative to items found on the kids’ menu. And some restaurants even offer small or half-portions of many appetizers, entrees and desserts as other options. Some establishments may not advertise the availability of smaller portions, so be sure to ask. If they don’t, you can take half your meal home and save it for the next day.
Small Changes, Big Effect
Small, subtle changes can often make a big difference – and without sacrificing much taste. Order food grilled, steamed, broiled, poached or roasted instead of fried, and opt for tomato-based instead of butter or cream sauces. Likewise, choose broth-based soups instead of creamed. Another great suggestion is to ask for whole wheat or whole grain pasta or rice. And if you must have a dessert, try sharing it, or choose fruit and sorbet.
As you can see, there are so many ways to eat out, and stay healthy. The next time you eat out at a restaurant, keep these tips in mind to feel so much better and less guilty afterwards. And if you want to give your kids an extra health-boost each day, be sure to check out the Nature’s Plus® Animal Parade Multivitamin to give them everything they need to be as healthy as possible.