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Finding a balance when eating out!

Choosing foods that meet your nutritional demands can be very difficult when you eat out. This information provides you with (1) some healthy food choices for lunch and dinner (2) information on which options you could choose when you are looking to treat yourself (aim to have these once a week at the most) and, (3) some options to avoid.

Lunch options:

M & S ‘Full for Longer’ and ‘Count on Us’ range are good options when you’re buying from the high street. Other good M & S sandwich choices include egg and British ham salad seeded roll, roast beef and horseradish sandwich, tuna sweetcorn and the roast chicken salad sandwich on brown bread. The best salad options include the noodle salad with sweet chili chicken, Lochmuir hot smoked salmon with potato salad, super wholefoods salad. There is also a good range of extras including vegetables with hummus dip, bean salads, yoghurt and nuts for additional protein sources.

If you choose to buy sandwiches for lunch try to avoid high fat additions such as mayonnaise or creamy dressings, and extras such as processed meat and cheese. If there is a choice of bread, choose seeded or wholemeal bread over white. Salads can be misleading and often contain high fat dressings. Try and select a salad that has the dressing on the side. Don’t be tempted by the meal deals, as the additional fizzy drink, crisps and chocolate bars are not required and contain very few nutrients and increase your calorie intake substantially.

Dinner options:

Your evening meal should provide some good quality protein, a moderate amount of complex carbohydrates and plenty of vegetables. Green leafy vegetables, beans, pulses and lentils are excellent choices. This can be hard when eating out, particularly in the evening when simple carbohydrates feature in the bulk of most cuisines.

Eating out in the evening is often a very sociable activity. With this comes pressure to eat foods that are not necessarily good choices. For example, if a selection of starters have been ordered that consist of predominantly high fat, fried and battered foods (e.g. spring rolls, calamari, garlic bread, tempura) there is the pressure to pick at them even though they do not meet any of your nutritional requirements. Stick to your goals and don’t be tempted! Also avoid additions to your meal such as mayonnaise, chips, garlic bread, cream sauces, butter, pastry or fried foods.

Try to avoid pasta, rice and noodle based dishes – aim for protein based meals instead. Although you need to add vegetables to this meal, if they are fried or battered they lose a large amount of their vitamin and mineral content. There is also the temptation to drink alcohol when you go out for dinner with friends in the evening. Try to limit yourself and stick to your nutritional goals!

Dinner Treats:

It is very hard to find good food choices at all cuisines when eating out. If you do decide to stray from your nutritional goals, here is some information to help you make an informed decision as to what to eat. Try to limit these treats to a maximum of  one per week.

Indian Restaurants:

Cafes / Sandwich shops:

Drinking coffee is as much of a habit as it is a social and cultural activity. Coffee shops such as Starbucks and Costa are very popular, however it is very easy to drink a significant amount of your calorie intake for the day in the form of milk if you’re not careful. Try to limit your coffee intake to 2-3 cups per day.

The best take-away drink options include an Americano, cappuccino, skinny Latte, brewed teas, iced latte and Frappuccino light. Most cafes offer a selection of milks – always specify if you want reduced fat or skimmed milk. Be careful with the selection of muffins, cakes, slices and pastries available as most are high in fat, with the low fat versions high in sugar.