Last week I wrote about the benefits and importance of meal prepping. However, in the real world of busy people like myself sometimes meal prep just doesn’t work out. Too busy, too tired, out of ingredients or simply not in the mood are just few of the reasons.
So what do we do then? Well, unless you have a personal chef or someone else to cook for you then you are left with no choice but to eat out.
Eating out comes in many forms – supermarkets, fast food joints, restaurants… the list goes on.
The real problem with eating out
There is nothing wrong with the concept of eating out though. The problem is from the food choices available when eating out.
I’m talking about that annoying moment when you are reading a menu or a product’s ingredients list and you are wondering how healthy that thing is, whether there are any hidden toxic or allergy causing ingredients and how filling and satisfying the meal will be. Pah! Tough job!
That’s the moment we all struggle with. It can be very challenging to find something that is truly healthy, but also delicious, light on the wallet and filling in your tummy.
You see, many items that initially come across as healthy can reveal themselves to be quite the opposite once you have given the ingredients list a closer look.
Preservatives, weird sounding ingrdients, chemicals, acids, sugars and fats can be easily disguised under some funny names!
Fear not! There are a few tips you can keep in mind when you are faced with such situations:
1. As a rule aim for vegetables with protein (meat, fish, pulses, soy products) and a bit of carbs (rice and potatoes preferably).
2. Always go for grilled, steamed or boiled foods and avoid anything fried.
3. When doing groceries avoid any complicated sounding ingredients (e.g. maltodextrin is a type of sugar, anything with a number is a chemical, e.g. E122, hydrogenated oils are transfats and so forth).
4. Beware of sauces and desserts! These are full of sugars and fats, so you will be better off with olive oil based dressings and fruit. Instead opt to have a home-made dessert or an organic treat separately from your dine-out meal.
5. Don’t forget that drinks are calories too (apart from water)! Avoid fizzy drinks, sodas, milkshakes and lemonades. Your best bet is water or herbal tea/black coffee. Be careful with juices – even fresh ones tend to be very high in sugar and low in fiber (as that is in the fruit itself which is discarded during the juice making process).
6. Prices can be deceiving. What is cheap is not always unhealthy (e.g. fruits, beans, chickpeas, rice). On the other hand what is expensive is not always healthy (e.g. salads with fatty sauces, gourmet quiches and sandwiches can all contain very high levels of fat and hidden sugars).
7. To keep yourself full try to have as much protein for your buck as possible. Choose salads with chicken, fish, beans, chickpeas, lentils or tofu. If available go for yogurt based sauces and top up with nuts for an extra dose of protein. Slow-releasing carbs (e.g. rice, potatoes, oats, quinoa and whole grains) and a dash of healthy fats (avocados and olive oil are best) will also help you feel full .
Phew! So there you go. Quite a few things to keep in mind but once you have gone through this checklist a couple of times you’ll know it by ❤ I promise 🙂
So go out, don’t be afraid and choose wisely!