FOOD TIPS: The Dos and Don'ts of Restaurants, Grocery, and Cooking
Eating out can be tricky if you’re solely going by menu labels and descriptions. Restaurants will deem certain dishes ‘healthy’ or a ‘smart choice’ and in truth, they’re not.
Yes, eating out can be tricky if you’re solely going by menu labels and descriptions. Restaurants will deem certain dishes ‘healthy’ or a ‘smart choice’ and in truth, they’re not.
I live by one rule and one rule only and that is...
I TRUST NOTHING.
When I’m at a restaurant, I order my own custom meal. My husband teases me about it because sometimes the waitress’ eyes will glaze over because of all the questions I’m asking. But honestly, most people in the service industry are used to people changing their orders and asking about nutrition facts. I know one thing. I’m not going to ruin my whole day of hard work because I didn’t ask a few questions! No way, José.
If you're really trying to keep calories really low, you can’t go wrong by ordering a plain baked chicken breast, broiled fish, or even a lean steak. You can ask them to hold the bread, steam your veggies, switch out white rice for plain brown rice or wild rice, or add a basic salad with dressing on the side. Most meals come with two sides. Make both of those sides a form of vegetable.
A good formula for restaurant eating:
1 meat/fish serving + 2 sides of steamed/roasted veggies = HEALTHY CHOICE!
When it comes to salads, always go with the vinaigrette dressing when possible. Even oil-based dressings like your basic Italian is better than the creamy dressings. And always have them on the side. You will always use less if you dip your fork into the top of the dressing rather than pour it all over everything.
Most restaurants do offer a light fare options as well. So you could pick one of those meals or even have them tweak one of those to suit your tastes. Most restaurants will oblige food requests as long as they're in reason.
If you’re a seafood lover, there’s lots of healthy choices. Baked, broiled, steamed, or grilled fish, shrimp, scallops, lobster, and crab legs are all good choices. If you stay away from the butter, you’re golden. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of butter, but when we ingest a vat of it because we’re dipping our seafood into it or pouring it all over our dish, we are going beyond moderation and into heart attack territory.
There’s always an option. Just make sure you are the one calling the shots.
GROCERY STORE TIPS
Let's talk about the grocery store. When you are walking through a grocery store, every single item that you lay your eyes on is trying to sell itself to you. With health consciousness increasing, food companies know everyone is looking for healthier options.
Every box, bag, or package has some kind of healthy catchphrase smeared across it. They are very deceiving and you need to train yourself to look at the labels and make your own decision if it's a healthy item. Don't just take their word for it.
When you’re contemplating buying something, it comes down to one question. Ask yourself …
Did a caveman eat this?
To eat healthy is to eat REAL food. Food that is from natural ingredients. A whole food diet is truly the best way to eat. Other than your staple brown foods such as brown rice, brown pastas, oatmeal, quinoa, and other grains, you really shouldn’t be buying anything with a crinkly wrapper or in a box. I’m pretty sure cavemen weren’t eating Cheetos and Better Cheddars.
You should be buying the predominant amount of your food along the perimeter of the store. Grocery stores set up all of their perishable and whole foods along the outside walls of the store. All the junk lies in the middle (except for your grains). The only other foods that are middle-approved are the canned fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds.
However, remember to only purchase canned fruits and veggies that are in their natural state without added sugar or salt. This goes for nut butters, nuts, and seeds as well. Buy nuts in their natural, unprocessed state, not the ones covered in maple, honey, or cinnamon flavors. Grab the natural and organic nut butters over the processed garbage.
Be careful about being fooled into thinking you are making a healthy recipe when if fact you may not be.
Many recipes will label themselves as 'healthy' yet they are loaded with unhealthy ingredients. Look for recipes that use lean meats, complex carbohydrates, plenty of fresh ingredients, and unprocessed ingredients.
I saw a recipe not too long ago that claimed it had 'NO SUGAR' but when I looked at the ingredients, it called for chocolate chips, brown sugar, maple syrup, and quick oats. No sugar? Last time I checked chocolate chips and maple syrup, and hello? brown sugar? ALL have tons of sugar in them. My God, they ARE sugar. Just because the recipe doesn't have 'white table sugar' doesn't mean you get to say your recipe is sugar-free.
Also, quick oats are stripped of most of their healthy attributes. You should always stick with steel cut oats or old fashioned oats. Stay away from the instant oatmeal cups loaded with sugar claiming to be healthy because they have fruit in them. There's barely any nutrition in these products. They are overly processed, have added sugar, and tons of other ingredients (most of which you can't pronounce).
When looking for healthier versions of desserts, look for recipes using natural sweeteners such stevia and organic raw honey. I am a HUGE fan of stevia. I’ve used stevia for almost 10 years. It is my only go-to sweetener. I use it in all my baking as well as in my coffee and tea. It is one of the only all-natural sweeteners out there that does not illicit an insulin surge from the pancreas which makes it the perfect choice for a diabetic.
Did you know that even fake, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and Splenda still illicit an insulin surge from your pancreas even though they are not real sugars?Even though these fake sweeteners are not real sugar, your body still recognizes them as just that, sugar. So in turn, your body releases insulin into your bloodstream to counteract the sugar that isn’t even there. How messed up is that? Pretty damn messed up if you ask me.
So many diabetics are misinformed and are using these artificial sweeteners thinking they are making a healthy choice and all the while their pancreases are being taxed and harmed by these 'non-sugars'. Stevia is safe for diabetics. It is all natural and the body does not perceive it to be sugar.
Just because something says it’s healthy doesn't mean that it is. If you turn a box over and you don’t recognize some of the ingredients or it has more than 10 ingredients, it’s a safe bet it’s not healthy, no matter what load of bull they’re saying about it. Put it back on the shelf. It won’t help you lose weight and you don’t want this harmful fake food making its way into your children’s tummies!
To read about more food tips and weight loss advice read my article, "HOW I LOST 120 POUNDS: Food Tips, Family Health, and Recipes".
*This article is a revised excerpt from an interview I gave earlier this year. I was interviewed by Author Jillian Neal about my 120 pound weight loss journey.
*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content in this article is for general information purposes only. I am not a doctor, nor am I a dietitian. Talk to your physician before making any changes in your diet or exercise regimen. The information found in this article is from various sources which include, but are not limited to, the sites listed above. I encourage you to do your own research and talk with your physician before making any changes in diet or exercise. What has worked for me may not work for you. This information in this article or on this website should never replace or serve as medical advice.
NEVER DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR DELAY SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT BECAUSE OF SOMETHING YOU HAVE READ ON OR HAVE ACCESSED THROUGH THIS WEB SITE.