When it comes to families’ routines, parents often may feel like they’re performing a juggling act. With school, work, extracurricular activities, medical appointments, play dates and chores, schedules quickly become so jam-packed that cooking wholesome, healthy dinners takes a backseat. The daily grind makes it easy and convenient to deliver dinner from a bag.
But resorting to restaurant meals doesn’t mean abandoning healthy-eating habits. Making simple changes and bypassing the deep-fried menu options can keep children happy, healthy and well-fed, leaving mom and dad a few extra minutes to spare.
Follow these tips from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for a healthier restaurant experience:
When it comes to choosing a beverage, opt for water or order fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea or a drink without added sugars.
Eat sandwiches on whole-wheat bread instead of white.
Start your meal with a veggie-packed salad, which will control hunger and help you feel satisfied sooner.
Order salad dressing on the side so that you only use the amount you want.
Choose main dishes that include vegetables, like stir-fries, veggie and lean-meat kebobs or pasta with tomato-based sauce.
Order steamed, grilled or broiled dishes over fried or sautéed ones.
Choose the lunch-sized portion on main dishes, and go with small side dishes and beverages.
Steer clear of all-you-can-eat buffets. Order off a menu instead.
Order foods that aren’t accompanied by creamy sauces or gravies.
Add little or no butter to your food.
Choose fruit for dessert.
Some restaurants are known for huge portion sizes. If you find yourself at one of these establishments, try one of these strategies to keep from overeating:
Share a main dish with a friend.
Order an appetizer-sized portion or a side dish instead of an entrée.
If you’re able to refrigerate the food right away, set aside or pack up half of it up to take home in a doggy bag.
Opt out of the “clean plate club.” When you’ve eaten enough, leave the rest.
Another tip to remember while traveling or on long commutes is to pack some fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat string cheese or unsalted nuts. This may prevent you from stopping to buy sweet and fatty snacks.