- The way foods are prepared tells a lot about how healthy they’re likely to be. Terms such as roasted, baked, braised, grilled, stir-fried, poached or steamed indicate that they’re relatively low in fat. On the other hand, terms such as au gratin, breaded, creamy, flaky, scalloped, fried and pan-fried indicate relatively high fat preparation methods. Make special requests—likely the restaurant will happily accommodate you.
- Choose simply prepared whole foods: broiled fish, legumes, steamed and raw vegetables, whole grain breads or cooked whole grains. Clear soups and salads with oil and vinegar (vinaigrette) type dressings are good choices for a light meal. Eating a clear soup appetizer (as opposed to going straight to the entrée) will likely result in 25% fewer calories consumed by the end of the meal. Ask for salad dressing on the side and dip your fork in it rather than have it tossed into the salad.
- Order from the appetizer side of the menu along with clear soup and salad.
- Smarter buffet picks: bread without butter, cherry tomatoes, cooked vegetables, raw vegetables, fresh fruit, leafy greens, lean protein, yogurt. Be aware that variety of foods (buffet or sampling several entrees) and eating in groups induces overeating. Use a small plate—you’ll feel like the portions are larger than they actually are.
- Smarter “fast food” picks: salads with vinegar and oil based dressings, baked potatoes with broccoli, vegetable stir-fry with rice, broiled chicken, bean burritos. Best condiments: mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, onions, relish and pickles.
- Restaurants stay in business by making it easy for you to order more food than you need. A simple strategy is to order a pitcher of water for the table—you may think you’re hungry when you’re actually thirsty (most people are dehydrated to some extent). Sip water throughout the meal to naturally reduce your appetite. Avoid alcohol (cocktails) before dinner.
- Wait for 20 minutes after the meal before ordering dessert—it can take that long for the satiety signal to reach your brain. You may find that you really don’t want dessert after all. Choose fruit and/or low-fat yogurt combinations, if available.
- Also, check out Dinehere.ca. They've got a pretty good list of healthy/organic restaurants. http://dinehere.ca/r/vancouver/organichealthy
Resources: Ayoob, Keith et al. Healing Foods. 2000. International Masters Publishers.