Menu Language- What to look for.
In many cases, it is not the food that is unhealthy but the way it is cooked or prepared. Restaurants take full advantage of this because their job is to make your mouth water not help you maintain a healthy diet. Below are words to lookout for when scanning the menu:
- This one is obvious. When a food is fried it is cooked at a high temperature in a fat or oil substitution. If something is advertised to have no trans fat does not mean it does not have fat or saturated fat. This gives food such as chicken wings their yummy crunchy texture.
- Fried, au gratin, crispy, escalloped, pan-fried, sautéed or stuffed foods are high in fat and calories.
- Sometimes before that food is fried it is also breaded and some breading techniques also require dipping the food in flour and egg. The breaded chicken on your plate is a lot more than the typically 97% fat free chicken it once was. Breading and flouring just adds unnecessary carbohydrates and calories to your meal.
- Grilled chicken, shrimp, vegetables.
- Look for steamed, broiled, baked, grilled, poached or roasted foods.
You can request that visible fat be trimmed from meat and skin be removed from poultry before cooking.
If you’re not sure about a certain dish, ask your server how it’s prepared.
Request that your meal be prepared with vegetable oil (made from canola, olive, corn, soy, sunflower or safflower) or soft margarine instead of butter. Ask for soft margarine for your bread.
High-sodium foods include those that are pickled, in cocktail sauce, smoked, in broth or au jus or in soy or teriyaki sauce. Limit these items. Ask that your food be prepared without added salt or MSG.
Have gravy, sauces and dressings served on the side, so you can control the amount you eat or skip them completely.
Ask if the restaurant has fat-free or 1 percent milk instead of whole milk.
Even if they aren’t on the dessert menu, many restaurants can offer you fruit or sherbet instead of high-fat pastries and ice creams.
Equally important is the portion size. Help control your weight by asking for smaller portions, sharing entrees with a companion, or putting half of your meal in a to-go box to enjoy another time.
American Heart Association