When I was growing up we usually ate at home. If we went out if was for a special occasion, because we did well on our report card or during the summer we’d stop somewhere each Friday night on our way to the beach for dinner. Eating out always felt like a special treat to me. These days so many people make going out to eat such a regular occurrence it’s lost the same meaning it had for me as a kid. What’s more concerning is while many establishments have added healthy options to their menus, how does frequent dining out impact one’s health overall?
Don’t get me wrong–there are plenty of ways to maneuver around the nutrition landmines on almost any menu. In fact, a while back I dedicated one of my blogs to selecting healthy options when dining out. The problem is that it gets more difficult the more often you’re faced with those fattening and unhealthy choices, especially if your healthy options are limited.
Another thing I always keep in mind is that even when I order something that sounds healthy (and I do my very best to order things steamed, keep sauces on the side, etc.), you’re not actually in the kitchen to see what’s being added to your food. That’s the great thing about home cooking–you’re the cook! You know exactly how much fat, what kind of fat, how much sodium, etc. is going into your meal because you’re adding it. There’s no guesswork involved.
What about your kids? If it’s difficult for you to healthy out night after night, it’s almost impossible to figure out how to get kids to eat healthy at a restaurant when dining out frequently. Good luck with that one. They’re faced with all the typical menu items kids want and love–French fries, ice cream, hot dogs and soda. The healthy options are extremely limited and you’re going to have a tough time getting them to pick the same things over and over.
Let’s also talk finances. For what you’d pay at a restaurant, you can spend half the amount and feed your family a nutritious meal at home. Think about what you’d save in a month and it’s a no-brainer.
I love to go out to eat–I just limit how much I do it. This way I can easily find healthy options on the menu (or cheat a little without feeling guilty since it’s only once in a while!), keep my finances in check and it still feels like a special treat every time I go. Check out our recipe and healthy meal planning sections for ideas the next time you’re thinking about heading out to a restaurant. You might surprise yourself at how much you like eating in!