Can You Eat At Restaurants When on a Restricted Diet?

I like to frequent restaurants and fast food outlets. I grew up in an era when eating out was a special treat so being able to do it whenever I want gives me a sense of having reached a secure financial state.

But given my recent artery and heart problems, I have cut back dramatically on my eating out. Where once it was common for my wife and I to have three meals out each weekend, we now seldom eat out more than once a weekend, cooking most of our own food to be sure we are getting low to no salt, sugar and fat in our dishes.

If you’re wondering what to order when you find yourself eating out, check out the American Heart Association website page called Tips By Cuisine which tackles the issue of eating out for people with heart problems and coronary disease.

A recent steakhouse order for me, no sauces, no butter and no sour cream but a great little filet mignon, a lean cut of meat.
A recent steakhouse order for me, no sauces, no butter and no sour cream but a great little filet mignon, a lean cut of meat.

A caveat, however, I think some of the language on the page is a bit PR-ish.

For example, it states: “You can eat out and eat healthy, too. Many restaurants offer delicious meals that are low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.”

Most restaurants offer just the opposite, or if you ask for special orders as the site suggests, bring you the blandest imaginable dishes. There is change going on, but it’s coming slowly.

That said, the AHA page offers tips by specific cuisines such as Italian, Chinese, Japanese and others. It also has fast food tips, good to know if you tend to eat at fast food outlets for lunch as I do.

Its fast food advice:

* Beware of topping burgers with cheese, special (mayonnaise-based) sauce and bacon — they add saturated fat and calories.
* Pickles, onions, lettuce, tomato, mustard and catsup add flavor without the fat.
* Steer clear of fried fish sandwiches.
* A baked potato can be a healthy option, but have it with low-fat sour cream instead of butter, full-fat sour cream or cheese.

Those are all pretty easy to implement, I’ve been doing all those for the past three years at least.

Its advice for steakhouse, or steak choices in general, also was encouraging because it doesn’t advise dropping steak altogether. Rather it suggests substituting. Instead of ordering “fatty cuts of meat, such as rib eye, porterhouse, T-bone,” the site says, pick “leaner cuts of meat, such as London broil, filet mignon, round or flank steak, sirloin tip, tenderloin.” The bad news, though, three ounces at a sitting or six ounces for a day.

That page is a good one for anyone on a restricted diet, not just heart patients, to bookmark.


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