So I forgot my healthy, mouth-watering correct peppered sautéed green (Efo Riro) cooked with dried fish with steamed sweet potatoes to go with it at home today and you know a girl has got to eat! I don’t skip meals EVER! I just love my food like that! Anyway I decided to go for lunch at the university canteen with some co-workers and needless to say university food in my part of the world is quite tempting because of the huge portions they serve, the price (cheeeeeaaaaaapppp) and the seemingly unlimited but mostly unhealthy choices!
From a long dessert cart, to the all-you-can-eat fast food buffet, to co-workers or friends who are so skinny, they chose to indulge in all the foods that I would like to munch on myself (which I can’t). Can I be honest for a moment? The temptation in that place is just too much!
After scratching my head for a looooong time as I weighed my options, I decided to go for a plate of salad and grilled chicken without the French fries, mayonnaise and tomato sauce (ketchup is all this sauce is made of really). But here is the thing, when you are on the healthy lifestyle side of life, you need to make sure that no matter where you are, no matter how bad the situation seems to be, you MUST make the BEST and the HEALTHIEST choices. You’ve practically got to choose the lesser evil. So how do I eat healthy in this kind of setting without breaking all my healthy lifestyle guidelines stick to my healthy eating habits in face of abundance?
The key is taking time to weigh your options, portion and self-control.
Here are 10 health habits for you if you must eat out:
1. Chose foods that are simply prepared and foods you can recognize.
Simply prepared foods are those foods like boiled whole grain rice, yam and all other one to three ingredient foods which are clearly visible with no hidden additives like fats and oils or tastes enhancers that get you hocked-up and going for seconds and thirds.
2. Chose foods that are not deep-fried.
You want to avoid deep-fried foods because these are not heart-healthy. Foods like french fries and co. will only help to clog your arteries leading to obesity and obesity-related diseases like heart attack and cancers.
3. Make sure you know ALL ingredients used in preparing the dish, in case you doubt, ASK!
4. Skip junk.
Junk food is one of the reasons why an increasing number of people both in developed and in developing countries suffer from coronary heart disease (CVDs). When eating out try as much as possible to avoid junk food like French fries, sodas etc. Eat real food ONLY!
5. Discard visible fat and oils.
One other way to cut calories and eat healthy out of home is to remove the skin and visible fat from poultry and beef. If you have no other option than foods floating in oil, use your spoon to discard any visible oil. You may reduce calories by half just by doing that.
6. Control your portions.
Divide your plate and use the MyAfricanPlate rule: 1/2 plate fruits and veggies, 1/4 plate lean protein and 1/4 plate complex carbs to control your portions or use the “Zimbabwean Hand Jive” method by comparing and imagining the sizes with your hands.
7. Eat half the portion served.
Most restaurants or canteens serve larger portions that we require. What you can do is, ask to be served half the normal portion or if portions are too large give out some to colleagues or take-away the rest for the next day’s lunch.
8. Drink water not artificially sweetened juices or sweetened beverages.
You can never go wrong drinking “naked” water. It is a great method to control how much you eat. Drinking a glass about 30 minutes before you eat will fill up some space in your belly and cause you to eat less. Also, substituting water for higher calorie beverages can help in keeping extra calories at bay.
9. Choose green leafy salads and vegetables with an extra virgin olive-oil vinaigrette.
If you have to go for seconds, chose green leafy salads which are a low-fat, low-calorie and low-energy dense alternative when eating out because of their low-energy density. Olive oil has been scientifically proven to aid in the prevention of a myriad of diseases (cancer, obesity, blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease) and counter effects of aging.
10. Stop eating immediately you feel full.
Eat slowly in order to get the right signal that you are satisfied and stopped immediately you are. This will save you extra calories from another meal.
Ps. I removed the skin of my chicken, gave out half of it and enjoyed the rest with salad.
Do you have any other eating out trick you would like to share with me? Would love to learn from you too in the comments area below!