In our society, eating out is no longer reserved for the occasional celebration, but instead has become a frequent occurrence. On average, Canadians purchase 2 restaurant meals per week, with 15% of people doing so every day. So, what we eat when we dine out is very important, and has a significant impact on our overall health. Read on for a few tips to keep in mind the next time you are pursuing the menu!
The problem with fried foods is the cooking oil used is usually a form of vegetable oil that is highly processed, prone to oxidation when heated, and often damaging to our health. The deep fry oil in restaurants is often reused multiple times, increasing the damaging oxidation compounds in your food. This includes French fries, sweet potato fries and anything “deep-fried.”
Instead opt for steamed, grilled, poached, or broiled preparations.
First, let’s talk about what a refined starch actually is. These are carbohydrates that have been processed from the whole grain and typically have most of the fiber, healthy fats and nutrients removed from the food. They are low in nutrients and spike your blood sugar when you eat them, resulting in cravings, inflammation and weight gain. These foods will typically be white in colour and include items such as bagels, buns, pasta and white rice.
Instead opt for replacing starches with extra colourful and cruciferous vegetables (these include vegetables such as kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower).
Sauces and Dressings
Sauces and dressings are a hidden source of starchy thickeners and sweeteners, and we often don’t realize how much extra sugars, refined carbohydrates, and additives we are consuming. Wheat and corn by-products are often used as thickeners adding to our daily load of refined carbohydrate consumption.
Instead opt for a drizzle of oil and vinegar for salads, a squeeze of lemon for fish and meat drippings (“au jus”), hot sauce or mustard for meats.
Restaurant desserts are full of sugar and are often jumbo sized. Sugar is so addictive, it’s very hard to eat just one bite! Also, it’s important to limit your consumption of processed sugars to reduce your risk of a number of chronic health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, liver disease, impaired brain function, and osteoporosis.
Instead, opt for fresh berries or in-season local fruits to get natural sugars that include nutrients for health as well as satisfy our taste buds.
Need some help with a sugar-free meal plan including all the recipes and shopping list you need for delicious foods all week? Download the plan here.
On special occasions, we all want to indulge a little. As long as it is truly an occasion and not an everyday occurrence, then enjoy yourself (within reason)! A good rule of thumb to consider is to have only ONE of the following when you are out for dinner (choose the one most important to you):
- Sweet dessert
- Refined starch – bread, white rice, white potato or pasta etc.