Many of us know that eating at home as much as possible is not only healthier, but saves quite a bit of money. Alas, in our modern lives with jobs and families, it can seem nearly impossible to remember to pack a lunch every day or get out of the house in the morning with a decent breakfast. Inevitably we end up dining out. Even for the most strict eaters, we still have birthday parties and the unavoidable dinner out every now and then, so what can we do to ensure we are eating well when dining out? Here are a few tips from a chef’s perspective on how to avoid common processed, low-quality, GMO foods from the restaurant kitchen.

  1. Be Salad Smart

We often order salads because we think that they are the healthiest options. Salads are not necessarily better because they can be loaded with processed cheeses, fried proteins and condiments, GMO oil dressings loaded with sugar, and so on. Remember with salads that less condiments and more veggies are better. Try leaving off the shredded yellow cheddar, order that chicken or shrimp grilled instead of fried, leave off the croutons and get oil and vinegar or fresh lemon on the side for dressing.

  1. Keep It Simple

Most entrees come with a couple sides (usually starchy carbohydrates) and some sort of heavy seasoning on the protein as well as rich sauces. A good rule of thumb is to think 30% of your plate AT MOST should be dedicated to protein and AT LEAST 70% dedicated to plants. Instead of ordering the baked potato and rice pilaf as your side, try doubling up on the veggie options or on salad. If you are served a giant portion of meat, eat what is equivalent to that 30% percent and take the rest home in a doggie bag for a whole meal the next day. Be wary of seasonings too. Many commercial-grade spices and seasonings bought in bulk can be low quality, packed with iodized salt and preservatives. Instead of ordering your fish with Cajun spice, try asking for simple sea salt and pepper with lemon on the side – you get the idea.

  1. Skip Dessert

The more we learn about sugars, especially refined ones, the more we realize how they promote inflammation and are damaging to long-term health. It really is just best to skip dessert. If you are a sugar-holic learning how to cut it out of your diet, ask for a fresh bowl of fruit and/or berries instead. Order a single espresso with it to help suppress your appetite and that typically provides great support for keeping the sugar monster at bay. Another good idea is to drink your dessert, like that single espresso or a glass of good quality red wine. If you have no other options and your auntie insists you try a bite of her birthday chocolate cake, just take a few bites, savor them and be done. Take your time, drink a sip of water or coffee in between, cleanse your palate, take a breath, you’ll be ok.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.