Do you check the nutrition facts label before purchasing a product at the grocery store? It is not uncommon for me to find five or more customers clogging up the bread aisle while comparing multiple products. Being “nutrition savvy” is not an easy task, especially when faced with dining out at a restaurant. How do you obtain nutrition information for your favorite Pad Thai or barbecue? Determining the exact calorie, protein, fat, and carbohydrate content in restaurant dishes is neither possible, nor necessary. Many food chains are trending toward offering the nutrition information online, which can serve as a guideline for you to make an informed choice. Remember to check the serving sizes listed as online menu nutrition information often lists the serving size as only half the entrée! Being comfortable ordering and eating a meal at a restaurant is an important part of life and eating disorder recovery. Here are some helpful hints:
1. Spend some time thinking of what you might like to order, but honor your cravings or food preferences to prevent feelings of deprivation.
2. Learn to enjoy the company more than the food. Take your time when eating and savor the conversation as much as the dish.
3. Share entrées to save calories and dollars. Or do not feel obligated to eat everything on your plate. Honor your fullness.
4. Order salads with dressings on the side. Then you can be the judge of how much dressing you choose to enjoy, honoring your own preference.
5. Do not hesitate to tailor an entrée by requesting different sides to fit your liking or add some color (i.e. fruit instead of chips).
6. Feel empowered to ask for what you need or want, i.e. ask to remove bread and butter, chips, crackers, etc. from the table. Sometimes these starter foods can equal mindless calories.
7. You can always ask how foods are prepared. Feel free to request substitutes.
8. Make sure to incorporate your favorite fun foods from time to time. This will help you satisfy your cravings.
9. Remember, your eating does not need to be perfect! The long-term goal is to feel good, have more energy, and to be healthy.