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When in situations where you don’t have nutrition labels for guidance, such as while dining out in restaurants, it can be a little tougher to determine which foods will contribute to good health and which ones won’t. Here are some hints to help weigh the good and the bad in restaurant meals:

Salads

Sure, a salad seems like a healthy choice, but if it contains a good amount of croutons and saturated fat sources, such as cheese, bacon and creamy dressing, it is no longer a stellar option. If you’re dying for a Caesar salad, order a small one as a starter and keep the dressing on the side.

Omelettes

An omelette – yes, even one containing the yolks – with nothing but vegetables added is a good example of the good outweighing the bad, even with the small amount of cholesterol and saturated fat found in egg yolks. The high quality protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber found in a vegetable omelette are what place this dish on the good list. Once cheese and meat are added, however, typically the omelette is no longer considered a healthy choice.

Fish or Chicken Dishes

Yes, chicken and fish are lean protein sources, but if they are served breaded or battered and fried, the bad automatically outweighs the good. Heavy, creamy or buttery sauces also turn any grilled chicken or fish dish into a member of the not-so-great club.

Soups

Before ordering any soup as a starter, ask if it contains cream. If the answer is yes, typically the bad outweighs the good. Broth-based soups are usually the healthiest options, with the exception of French Onion Soup. As we all know, French Onion Soup is scrumptious, but the massive amount of cheese and bread on top isn’t doing our bodies any favors.

Diet Soda

It may be sugar and calorie-free, but we’re talking about a drink that is loaded with artificial colors and sweeteners. That, combined with the fact that there is zero nutritional value in diet soda, the bad outweighs the good. Obviously, there’s no need to mention regular soda at this time, right…?

While we’re on the subject of beverages, I have to bring up the two popular drinks below.  I know they’re not usually found in restaurants, but I’m dying to tackle these bad boys while they’re on my mind. Thanks for listening.

Sports Drinks

Fully loaded with a massive amount of artificial colors (obviously) and cheap sweeteners, the bad outweighs the bit of good they offer with their electrolyte balancing minerals. Want a better hydrating alternative? Go for pure 100% coconut water.

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Water With Vitamins In It

The name of this drink sure makes it sound healthy, but the 30 + grams of sugar added to each individual sized bottle really tips the scale to “bad” on this one, I’m afraid.  Instead, fill up a reusable bottle with plain filtered water and add mint leaves and/or orange slices to make it more flavorful. Need the extra vitamins? Pop a multivitamin supplement instead.

I’d love to reiterate that the info I’ve shared in both Parts 1 and 2 of this post are meant to assist in choosing the foods you eat on a regular basis. I’m all for having a treat every once in a while – even if it has less than perfect ingredients.

What about you? Are there particular key words on restaurant menus that cause the bad to outweigh the good? Let me know in the comments!

In case you missed it! Here’s Part 1- Weigh The Good And The Bad With All Things You Eat: Grocery Store Finds

 

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Comments

Amy Passarella

Hi Audrey,
I found the section about sports drinks particularly interesting. I’ve never been a sports drink consumer but do realize that I need to replenish with more than just water after long runs or workouts. I like the idea of unsweetened coconut water as an alternative however, it lacks sodium that is also needed. What would you suggest to replenish the sodium?

Reply

Audrey Dunham

Hi Amy, the average person has no problem getting enough sodium in due to the added salt in many foods we consume on a regular basis. However, if you are a runner who runs long distances and/or you tend to sweat a lot when you workout and/or run outside in hot weather, it may be a good idea to add additional salty foods before or after your run or heavy workout. Olives, salted nuts and homemade soups are good options. I’m also a big fan of Vega Sport Hydrator which is an electrolyte powder you can add to your water. Hope that helps!

Reply

Francine

I Love Chicken With Sauces An SPICES. I Love Onion Soup With THE Cheese. I Love SALADS With DRESSING. Boy I THINk I’m SCREWED.Y IS It Some People Hafta WATCH THEIR Weight When Others PIG Out On THE Foods We Aren’t ALLOWED Ta Eat OR We’re Going Ta GAIN 5 Pounds From 1 SLICE Of Cheese. I Love Ta Cook An BAKE. But I WANNA Be Smart About It But every Time I READ A ARTICLE On Healthy Foods THERE TAKING SOMETHING Else Away From ME. I’m Ready Ta Jump Off THE Healthy Wagon An Jump On THE FATTY Wagon. ALL THERE ARTICLES R DISCOURAGING ME.

Reply

Audrey Dunham

Hi Francine, one way to look at it is, you’d be choosing to eat in a way that will help you live longer, not in a way that would make you “skinnier.” I say, continue to eat the foods you love, just in smaller amounts and slightly less often. Saying you can never eat the foods you love is extremely discouraging as well as unrealistic.

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DArla

We live in the mountains and have well water. For about a year we have been drinking alkaline water, but now I’m hearing it’s not to great because the minerals have been removed. Should we be drinking alkalinity water, well water, spring water??? What are your thoughts about all this. Any knowledge you can share with us would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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