Restaurant Dining How-To: Fitting Restaurants into your Meal Plan

When you are following a meal plan, it may seem difficult to stick to your goals when dining outside of the home. However, there are many ways to keep you on track and maintain the joy of the experience. Here are a few tips to follow during the process to ensure that dining out still fits within your meal plan.

Before you go

Browse menus beforehand. Looking at restaurant menus before you go is a good way to prepare for the dining out experience. Whether you need to choose an establishment or one has already been selected, viewing the menu prior to arriving will help you identify foods to choose without being rushed to a decision in the moment.

When you’re ordering

Add vegetables. Adding vegetables to any meal can fill you up on nutrient-dense foods, keeping you less inclined to overeat other not-as-nutritious selections. Try ordering a salad before your meal or doubling up on a side of vegetables.

Stay away from creams. Many soups and dressings can be cream-based, adding unnecessary high saturated fat content. Instead, choose broth-based soups and oil-based dressings. You can also ask to have sauces and dressings served on the side of the dish to better control how much you consume.

Substitutions. Don’t be afraid to ask to modify the meal. Restaurants excel at customer service and often aim to accommodate their customers when possible. Also feel free to ask how a dish is prepared. We often consume additional butter and fats unknowingly that were added in the cooking process but not mentioned on the menu.

When the food arrives

Immediately ask for a to-go box. Separating your food into what you will eat now and leftovers for another meal can help prevent overeating. Many portions that restaurants provide consist of multiple servings. Save half of your meal for tomorrows lunch to prevent eating too much and to save money on another meal you don’t have to purchase!

Drink lots of water.  Drinking plenty of water during a meal can help slow your eating and increase your fullness. This allows you to better digest your food and sense levels of fullness during a meal.

Be mindful. When we pay attention to eat bit of food we are eating we can appreciate it more, taste more flavors, and are less likely to overeat. Eat slowly and without distraction to reap the benefits of mindful eating.

 

Dining out doesn’t have to be a deal breaker (meal-breaker). Use these helpful tips to enjoy the cultural benefits of dining out with others while still sticking to your health goals.

Recipe Roundup

Let us do the planning for you! Here is a list of delicious, healthy recipes to work into your weekly meal plan! Do your shopping this weekend to allow for a stress-free week of meals!

Meatless Monday Recipe- St. Patrick’s Day is over but this recipe for Spinach Parmesan Spinach Cakes still carries those festive colors with it.

Taco Tuesday- Tacos are easy to make after a long day. These Tasty Blackened Cajun shrimp tacos with avocado salsa are ready in under 18 minutes and are super healthy and delicious! 

Wild Card Wednesday- What better way to get through the mid-week than to let your crockpot do most of the work on this day. Try this slow cooked Vegetarian Lasagna recipe.

Throwback Thursday-  Behold a great classic baked chicken breast recipe.

Fresh Friday- This fresh Mediterranean Quinoa Fried Rice recipe uses a lot of fresh ingredients and is sure to get your weekend off to a good start.

Foods to try in 2018

It seems like we are always looking for better ways to eat well and quick fixes for our long-term goals. However, some of the best methods of healthy eating are the ones that have been around for decades and some new food trends capitalize off revamping some of our tried-and-true favorites.

Fads

Food trends come and go, but sometimes new things are just updated versions of others. This year consider adding more plant-based protein to your diet. Veggie burgers are a great way to do this and new varieties and flavors are hitting the shelves every day. Another good source of vegetable protein is edamame. Whether you prefer eating it as a snack from the pod or throwing some out of the pod in a stir fry, it’s an easy way to boost your protein intake.

Back to the Basics

Other food items to try include classics with a twist! We all know vegetables are nature’s one-stop shop for most of your dietary needs. Try adding these into your diet in the form of veggie pasta by using a spiralizer to make noodles out of your favorite vegetables. Whole grains are also a dietary staple. Go for grains with added power foods such as chia or flax seeds to boost up your fiber and protein intake.

Old Meets New

The past is meeting the present today also through the farm to table movement. This so called “slow food” effort aims at linking local farmers to consumers in their community. Not only do consumers benefit from foods grown nearby and at a lower price due to elimination of the middle man, but consumers are supporting local business and farmers. These local foods can also be crafted into artisan goods such as wine, olive oil, and vinegars.

 

So- when heading out to the grocery store this year, consider purchasing updated versions of old classics, or head to a local market instead to check out what your neighbors have to offer. Here are three specific new things to try this year:

  1. Up your vegetable protein sources
  2. Try a spiralizer
  3. Shop at your local farmer’s market (slow food)

You may find new things to try that were near all along.

Staying Hydrated During the Colder Months

Dehydration can happen just as easily in colder weather as it can during the summer months. It is a leading cause of injury for Soldiers.   We often don’t feel as thirsty as we do in the summer and we don’t think we are sweating as much, which can be a false perception. According to the Mayo Clinic, we can become dehydrated in the cold from sweating, breathing, and from increased urine production. Yet, fewer people recognize the signs of dehydration in the winter, so it may be even more of a risk during the winter months.

 

Hydration assessment during cold-weather

 

We must hydrate even when we are not thirsty. Note that actual fluid requirements are dependent upon the level of physical work performed, the temperature and what you are wearing and carrying.   According to one study published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, our body’s thirst response decreases by 40% in the winter time. This is due to blood vessels constricting when cold weather hits, which ultimately helps for blood to flow to the core and conserve heat. Further, fluids carry nutrients to your cells, flush bacteria from your bladder, and prevent constipation. Drinking plenty of fluids in the cold weather is essential to providing fuel and energy to body parts to help facilitate heat production.

The Importance of overall Hydration

Water comprises about 60% of our body weight and is critical for life. Our body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. The average adult loses 1½ to 2L of water each day. Being in a cold-weather climate can add to this water loss through the increased excretion by the kidneys, perspiration, and evaporation from the lungs (the breath you see on a cold day).  It’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods with high water content.  

 

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Although most doctors do not recommend a one size fits all approach for water consumption, most people are fine with drinking to thirst (around 30-60 oz. per day). According to the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Soldiers should drink at least two to six canteens of water each day. Water-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, are also a good source of water. Proper hydration is especially important in cold weather as dehydration negatively affects the body's resistance to cold weather, increasing the chance for cold weather injuries. 

 

Prevention is Best! How to Prevent Dehydration

You can prevent dehydration from becoming severe by taking the steps below.

  • Make sure you have a water source available with you at all times.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise is important. Match your drink to the duration of your exercise or training. Electrolytes and carbohydrates are important after longer exercise or training events.
  • Monitor symptoms closely and hydrate at the first signs of dehydration. For those who are sick, hydrating at the first sign of diarrhea, vomiting, or fever is crucial.
  • Eat plenty of fruits. Winter fruits are excellent sources of water.
  • Wear the right clothing to help reduce water loss through sweat.
  • Adding Layers to your clothing is a good idea in those cold winter months. This will allow you to adjust your clothing to match the temperature and your activity level on an as-needed basis.

People who exercise outside in extreme weather conditions are at higher risk for dehydration, such as endurance athletes and those training in the military. Extra weight from supplies and gear can accelerate dehydration. Prevention is key when it comes to dehydration. By fueling up with the right foods and drinks, and wearing the right clothing, you can dramatically reduce your risk for dehydration and help stay hydrated during those colder months.

Resources: https://www.mayoclinic.org, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov and https://www.army.mil

Non-Dairy Milk

Cow’s milk has been the long-reigning star of the milk world, but in recent years some other non-dairy alternatives have come to challenge the throne. 

While cow’s milk is a great source of protein and vitamin D, it can also vary widely in fat, calorie, and carb content depending on whether you’re using whole, fat free or anything in between. Additionally, milk may not be an option for those with certain types of food allergies. Enter: non-dairy milk.

Almond milk is the most well-known of the non-dairy alternatives, but it has met with some small criticism for the fact that it takes 23 gallons of water to produce an ounce of almonds. If you’re looking for a different nut-based milk, cashew milk and hazelnut milk will give you a similarly nutty flavor that works well in recipes and as a coffee creamer. However, nut-based milk substitutes are often high in calories and fat, and low in protein. These are also a no-go for anyone with nut-based food allergies. Coconut milk is nut-free, light and creamy, and low in calories, but it’s also low in protein. There are also many less well-known dairy substitutes such as Hemp Milk (made of the hemp seed) and Flax Milk, both of which are full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Rice milk can be substituted 1:1 with cow’s milk in many recipes, and is the best option if you have any food allergies or are vegan. Unfortunately, rice milk has no protein and can contain lots of sugar if you don’t buy it unsweetened. Soy milk, on the other hand, has high protein and less fat than other milk substitutes, but its chalky taste and texture make some people reluctant to make the switch. Finally, a new up and comer on the scene is Quinoa milk. While it might be hard to find, it can also be substituted 1:1 in many recipes; it’s also gluten free, dairy free, and vegan. Make sure to watch the calorie count, though – quinoa milk has a higher sugar and calorie count than some other milks on the list, though still lower than cow’s milk.

There are a number of dairy-free alternatives to cow’s milk out there, and they each come with their own pros and cons. While this can be overwhelming, it’s good to consider what you’re looking for in your milk before you purchase. Are you looking for an alternative with lower carbs, fat, or calories? Are you looking for something with a protein punch? How about something that works well in recipes, or something that avoids food allergies? Check out the info-graphic above for more information on your options, and get started on choosing which milk is best for you.