People are often surprised to see me in the line at a fast food restaurant. I may be “Dr. Jo”, but I’m still just your average “Jo.” And, the average Joe here in the US (according to the National Restaurant Association) eats out five times a week!
So, how does the average “Jo” with a PhD in nutrition eat out in restaurants and maintain a normal, healthy weight? Here are my tips:
- Know Thyself. If you overeat when you get too hungry, plan an earlier meal. If you just can’t help but finish everything on your plate, then split a meal or order a smaller portion. If you overdo dessert, then don’t even look at the menu!
- Pick Your Pleaser, Skip Your Teasers. Before ordering I ask myself what I’m craving (my “pleaser”) and I plan my meal around it. That way it’s easy to avoid all those “teaser” foods that aren’t really as good.
- Do Your Research. Let’s face it, those tantalizing descriptions on the menu make you want to order everything! Before you go, review the online menu and nutrition information to plan what you will order.
- Call the Manager. If you have any questions about the menu while researching online, call the restaurant manager (servers rarely know what actually goes on in the kitchen). The manager knows portion sizes, added ingredients, and what substitutions can be made. I’ve found that fats and oils are added to almost everything (including “steamed” veggies) – that’s a “teaser” I can do without.
- Be Predictable. I have a few favorites (that I know won’t blow my calorie budget) at every restaurant. I order the Guiltless Grillers at Chili’s. It’s the BK Whopper Jr (no mayo) or the BK Veggie Burger at Burger King. At Outback Steakhouse, I’ll generally order the petite sirloin, salmon, or the scallops. My book, Eat Out Healthy, offers plenty of the better options.
- Be Mindful. Dr. Brian Wansink, the author of Mindless Eating, reminds us to eat slowly and savor every bite! You’ll enjoy the food more, feel full faster, and eat less!
Dr. Jo® Lichten is a PhD nutritionist, registered dietitian, and the author of several books including Eat Out Healthy. As a professional speaker, she keynotes at conferences and conventions about how busy people can stay healthy, sane, and productive. Her latest book, Reboot Your Energy, will be published in 2013.
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.