Healthy Cooking vs. Healthy Eating Out

By Marsha Hudnall on 02/06/2008
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648899_outdoor_eating_in_barcelonaI was sitting in on a cooking class at Green Mountain yesterday where Chef Jon was talking about adding flavor to foods. His lively presentation showed how to make healthy eating fun. And his food proves he knows of what he speaks. Interesting combinations of ingredients that are often jazzed up by clever spicing.

At the end of the class, a participant noted that she just couldn’t get up the interest in cooking for herself — she lives alone and is surrounded by really good restaurants. My first response was that you can eat healthfully when eating out. In a good restaurant, there are generally lots of choices that don’t spell trouble for healthy eating. Consider these ideas:

- Go simple. The more complicated a dish, the richer it is likely to be. Likewise, the more items we order, the more we’re tempted to eat. So consider whether you really want an appetizer and an entree. If the appetizer really appeals, can you make it your entree?

- Listen to your body. If you really want the richer dish, remember that our bodies are very good at giving us signals when we’ve had enough…if we listen. Tune into those internal cues. They’re likely to tell you that finishing the whole serving of fettucini alfredo isn’t something your body wants. In general, restaurant portions are enough for a couple of meals.

- Go well-fed. That doesn’t mean to eat right before you go. But you don’t want to skip meals or ‘save calories’ in order to ‘eat what you want.’ All that does is set you up for overeating out of hunger. The fact is, the more well nourished we are over time — that means regularly eating well-balanced meals and snacks that provides our bodies with sustenance — the stronger we will be at making supportive choices when faced with a variety.

- Eat what you want on a regular basis. If you deprive yourself of foods you like, you’ll be more vulnerable to food in general, less likely to be able to resist external cues that call to you to eat richer foods and more of them. Design your daily meals and snacks to include the foods you like. That way, when putting together a special meal, whether it be at home or in a restaurant, you’ll be better able to balance your choices so that you enjoy the meal and enjoy what you feel like after.

Bon appetit!

2 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Ansaar says:

    I love eating out and tend to indulge a little too much
    sometimes,so i thought i’d share a great tip i picked up
    which does not only apply to eating out,but eating in general:drink a glass of water BEFORE eating.
    I also agree that you should eat what you want now and then, but don’t overindulge.Being to strict just makes things harder.thanks for a great article

  • marsha says:

    Thanks for your comments, Ansaar. I do think making sure we are not thirsty instead of hungry is important. Too many times we do use food to satisfy thirst, when a glass of water would be a better choice. But I caution against using water to ‘fill ourselves up.’ If we do that, we’re trying to mask hunger, not truly satisfy it. And it will come back to bite us, either by getting us accustomed to feeling overstuffed when we think we’ve had enough, thereby leading to needing larger amounts of food to feel satisfied when we’re not drinking water, or by causing us to eat too little, thereby leading to hunger again shortly after we’ve eaten. So bottom line: Make sure we’re drinking enough water to satisfy thirst, but don’t use it to try to mask hunger. That doesn’t work.
    best,
    marsha

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