Eating out when you’re trying to be healthy and avoid weight gain is a minefield. For while there are outwardly unhealthy foods – like cheese fries and burgers – there are also unassuming dishes that are laden with calories.
To sort how you can read a menu and order food in a restaurant that’s healthy, FEMAIL spoke with dietitian, Lyndi Cohen.
She revealed the two words on a menu that are code for unhealthy, and the other tips and tricks to ensure you can eat out without expanding your waistline.
1. Avoid the words ‘crispy’ and ‘crunchy’, which are code for foods with added fat and sugar.
2. Share a main like a pizza, and order your own salad to crowd out your meal with vegetables.
3. Order with dessert in mind to make you order less. Chances are by the time you get to dessert, you won’t want it.
4. Keep the salad dressing on your salad, as the dressing is filled with oil which helps your body to absorb fat-soluble nutrients.
5. Think Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, bistros and sandwich bars when eating out.
According to Lyndi, if you’re on a diet, there a few easy rules to follow when eating out:
‘Choose the options that have the most vegetables as without a doubt these will be the healthiest options,’ she told FEMAIL.
‘While this isn’t always the case, words like “crispy” and “crunchy” can be clues that a food has been deep-fried or contains high amounts of sugar or fat – as these foods give the crunch.’
Lyndi also recommends that even if you might think it’s the healthier option, you still shouldn’t order your salad dressing on the side:
‘Salad dressing is what makes salads taste good, meaning you’re more likely to keep up the good behaviour,’ she said.
‘Plus salad dressing with oil actually helps your body to absorb fat-soluble nutrients found in vegetables.’
When looking for somewhere healthy to eat out, the Sydney-based dietitian explained Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, bistros and sandwich bars are the easiest places to find a nutritious choice.
‘If you want to be healthy when you eat out, the easiest thing to do is crowd in more vegetables to your diet,’ Lyndi said.
‘Share a pizza, but before you eat it, get a side salad. Enjoy your sushi, but why not throw in some edamame beans and miso soup?
‘A pasta needn’t be unhealthy – simply look for something with a tomato base. You can also choose a stir fry with brown rice, instead of fried spring rolls.’
Lastly, while it might feel counter-intuitive, Lyndi advised you should always go to eat out with dessert in mind.
‘Often, when you get to a restaurant you’re already quite hungry and it’s easy to order too much and then eat it anyway because it’s there,’ she said.
‘Recently, I’ve tried ordering with dessert in mind and it’s really worked for me. I order one less dish with the mains and promise myself if I’m still hungry or not satisfied afterwards, I can get dessert.
‘Most of the time, I finish the meal and realise I’ve ordered just enough. If I still want more, then there is always dessert.’