Eating out and keeping your heart healthy. Those may seem like two opposite things, but the fact is you can do both. And, in many cases, restaurants have embraced heart healthy menu options as more and more Americans seek out healthier lifestyles. As your leading Denver heart doctor group, we have put together some tips so you can eat out while keeping your heart healthy.
Choosing the Right Place to Eat
The first step is finding the right place to eat. Look for places that promote a heart friendly menu. A great resource that is endorsed by the American Heart Association is Healthy Dining Finder. You can look up places in your area that have healthy choices, including such places as Rubio’s, The Outback, Olive Garden and more. When you select a restaurant, the website provides suggestions on what to order and alternatives that they offer such as requesting no croutons or no butter on the bun.
The American Heart Association also has a Heart-Check meal certification program. So, just look for their check mark on the menu and you will know that they are certified as heart-healthy.
In general, when ordering out, most places with a kitchen will be able to put together something for you that is healthy and can prepare your food to order. However, you will want to avoid places that offer the all-you-can-eat buffets because you are more likely to eat more calories. Also, if you are going out, take a little time to familiarize yourself with their menu and decide before going what you would like to eat. That way, you will avoid the temptation of ordering high fat foods.
When you do eat out, avoid the extras before the meal like cocktails, appetizers, bread and butter as those are often sources of extra fat, sodium and calories. Ask for butter, salad dressings, sauces and gravy to be on the side so you can control the quantity. Also, instead of fried items, ask for them grilled or baked. Foods that are pickled, smoked, in broth (or au jus) or come with soy sauce or teriyaki should be avoided as those are, typically, high sodium. And, as a general rule, avoid dishes with lots of cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise.
When it comes to desserts, fresh fruit, sherbet, gelatin and angel food cake are great alternatives to heavy cream-laden items.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask you server about things like smaller portions or even healthier alternatives that can be substituted. For example, if something comes with mayonnaise-rich coleslaw, see if you can order fresh fruit or a green salad instead. Or, instead of French fries or onion rings, see about getting a baked potato or steamed vegetables.
How to Use This Information
It is possible to eat out and enjoy a heart healthy meal. Being healthy doesn’t mean you are relegated to always eating in. We want you to live life to the fullest and we hope these tips will help you when eating out. When it comes to your heart health, our team is here to help. In fact, we have all sorts of nutrition classes and cooking demonstrations. See our calendar of events or call (303) 744-1065.