While some of our staff love to cook, they also enjoy eating in restaurants. However, eating out can feel overwhelming and/or guilty if you are trying to adhere to a diet. Even when you order a healthy option from the menu you may overeat due to the large portions restaurants serve.
A lot of nutrition advice for patients with diabetes or people who want to lose weight says to eat a certain number of servings, but most people don’t know true serving sizes for foods (and don’t worry we still have to look up proper serving sizes). The serving size depends on the food; for fruits and vegetables a serving roughly equals 80 grams of food.
Below is a helpful guide to know portions (or serving size) of foods when cooking at home or eating out in restaurants. The image below should be very helpful in determining how to begin making meals and how to evaluate meals prepared by others to ensure you stick to your goals.
3 ounces of meat, fish or poultry = palm of hand (no fingers)
1 ounce of meat or cheese = thumb (tip to base)
1 cup or 1 medium fruit = fist
1-2 ounces of nuts or pretzels = cupped hand
1 tablespoon = thumb tip (1st joint to tip of thumb)
1 teaspoon = fingertip (1st joint to tip of finger)
As a reminder adults should aim for the servings below:
Vegetables: 4-6 servings (when using number 3)
Fruits: 2-3 servings (when using number 3)
Grains: 5-7 servings (when using number 1)
Dairy: 2-3 servings (when using number 3)
Protein: 2-4 servings (when using number 1)
Oils: 5-7 servings (when using number 6)
Generally, when eating out at restaurants we suggest these tips and tricks to help you make healthier choices.
Grilled, steamed or broiled meats are healthier than fried options
Ask for any dressing or sauce on the side so you can control how much you use
Vinaigrettes are healthier options than creamy dressings such as Caesar or ranch
Side salads may help you eat less of carb-heavy dishes you love and can enjoy in moderation such as lasagna (eat these first before the carb-heavy dishes)
Drink a glass of water before the meal gets there (can do this before every meal)
Sugary drinks like soda and sweet tea add a lot of calories to the meal and can add extra money to the bill; try only drinking water in restaurants and limit sugary drinks consumed daily
If they serve bread with the meal you can request they not bring you any so you aren’t tempted to eat it if you have already consumed your grains servings for the day
Plan your meal ahead by looking up the menu online because you’re much more likely to stick to a healthy meal when you plan ahead
Choose whole grain options such as brown rice or sweet potatoes instead of red/white potatoes and white rice
Ask for a to go box when your food comes out and put half of the meal in the box before you begin eating (if the portion is large enough to do this- not every restaurant serves that much food)
If you still have questions or want further guidance on how to create proper portion sizes or navigate eating out while maintaining a diet, stop by the pharmacy and talk to our wonderful staff!