Eating Out the Right WayWith so many great places to eat in Brevard County, we are bound to find ourselves out to eat with family and friends.  Most of us try to enjoy a good meal, without entirely thwarting our attempt to lead a healthier life.

Dining at a restaurant is like “eating blind.”  When we relinquish control of meal preparation, we leave our calorie, fat, cholesterol and sodium intake in the hands of someone who wants to dazzle our taste buds – often by adding salt, fat, sugar, and extra calories.

Now, one meal out here and there isn’t going to undo all the other good we do – but in our busy over scheduled lives, many of us find ourselves eating out several times per week.  If this is true for you, follow these simple tips to keep it under control.

  • Don’t be afraid to request substitutions
    • Ask your server how your meal is being prepared and what will be served with it.
    • If most entrees are fried, in cream and butter sauces, or gravy, request them without.
    • Skip side dishes like fries, rice, pasta, and mashed potatoes.  Request a side of steamed vegetables instead.
  • Be smart with sandwiches and wraps
    • Eat half of  the bread or bun
    • Ask your server hollow out your roll before building your sandwich, eliminating some useless calories.
    • Skip the mayonnaise, “special” sauces, pesto, and cheese.  They can add up to 10g of fat and 100 calories per tablespoon or ounce!
  • Be wary of ordering salads
    • As entrees or appetizers.   A grilled chicken Caesar salad can have as many as 1,300 calories and 80g of fat.   Order salads that list a bounty of colorful raw vegetables – with little emphasis on the dressing and “fixings.”  These will undermine your best intentions.
  • Order  grilled fish (or chicken) and steamed vegetables

If this option isn’t on the menu, create your own meal.  Most local restaurants are happy to customize your meal to make you happy.

  • Watch your portions!

    • An article in the American Journal of Health revealed that restaurant serving sizes have grown to be 2 to 7 times larger than they were 20 years ago!

Following this simple rule affords you the ability to eat anywhere.

    • Order an appetizer and a side salad – skip the oversized entrée altogether.
    • Only consume half of what is on your plate.  Cut your meal in half as soon as it arrives

Check out nutrition websites like or read the popular book series “Eat This, Not That” for a ballpark of what you are consuming. Awareness is the key!