Dining Out and Your Digestive System.
Whether grabbing a quick bite between appointments, meeting co-workers or clients for lunch, or dining out with family and friends at night, we all tend to go out to eat a few times a week. In fact, the average American dines out about three to five times per week. To go easy on your digestive system and your waistline, keep these four tips in mind when dining out.
Plan It Out.
Refrain from driving around and picking a restaurant on a whim. Research restaurants near you that have healthy options. Some websites, like Healthy Dining Finder, produce a large list of dining options in your area - each with restaurant choices, healthy meal descriptions, calorie counts, and more. Be prepared to avoid foods that are described as fried, creamy, or breaded and instead choose meals that are grilled, baked or steamed - your digestive system will thank you later. By looking at a restaurant’s menu and picking out your meal in advance, you are less likely to digress and choose an unhealthy option when you order.
A Good Start.
Start your meal with a house salad or brothy soup. Most restaurants’ meals come with a soup or salad to be served before your meal arrives. Choose a salad filled with vegetables such as cucumbers, onions, broccoli, and carrots. Salads are high in nutrients and low in calories, and both soup and salad will fill you up, leaving less room in your stomach for potentially less digestive-friendly options during your main course.
Ask Your Server.
Never be afraid to ask your server to clarify how a meal is prepared or what ingredients it contains. Knowing what you are putting in your body is always important, especially if you have allergies or certain ingredients don’t mesh with your digestive system. You should also ask your server about altering your meal and substituting sides. For example, if your meal is usually prepared fried, you can request that it be grilled. Most restaurants allow you to substitute unhealthy side items for vegetables or fruit. Order fresh broccoli or steamed rice instead of fries or onion rings.
Most restaurants’ proportions are double what we really need to eat in one sitting. As soon as your food arrives, or even as soon as you are seated, ask your server for a box. Box up half of your meal to enjoy the next day instead of stuffing yourself on the huge proportion provided.
Now that you have the right size proportion of a healthy meal in front of you, sit back and enjoy your cuisine and great conversation.
Dr. Stuart H. Coleman, MD
Gastroenterology of Southern Indiana
Dr. Coleman began his medical practice in New Albany in 1984 after many years of training. He attended the University of Kentucky for his pre-medical studies and the University of Louisville Medical School. This education was followed by a year of internship and an additional two years of specialty training in Internal Medicine, all in Portsmouth, Virginia with the U.S. Navy. He then received two additional years of training in Gastroenterology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Dr. Coleman is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.
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