By Bob Otieno
Eating out provides a chance to celebrate or socialise, experience new foods or just an excuse to avoid cooking. However, for many, fast foods and restaurants can be an obstacle to maintaining a healthy weight.
Dining out poses many challenges to a healthy lifestyle such as:
• Portion sizes are often larger
• Food may be prepared with added fat or sugar
• The meal may not offer three out of the four food groups to balance the meal, as fast food meals may be devoid of vegetables and fruit.
If you eat out on special occasions, eat what you want and enjoy the meal. However, if eating out is a more regular occurrence, it is important to choose wisely.
• Don’t wait until you are starving to find a place to eat, this will lead to an impulse decision and most likely an unhealthy one. Plan ahead and give yourself some time to choose.
• Look for a place that offers menus with nutrition information.
• If you are stuck with fast food, walk away from the pizza place or hot dog stand and look for places that offer fruit, yogurt, soup and sandwiches. Most fast food places now offer healthy options like salads and yogurt.
Know the fat you eat
Is there such a thing as good fat? For years we have been told that we should limit the amount of fat in our diets in order to help keep cholesterol levels in check. The fact is, we need some fat in our diet. Fat helps us absorb important vitamins like A, D, E, and K.
Other fats, however, can have a detrimental effect on your heart health. These fats are saturated and trans fatty acids. Foods containing these fats should be used sparingly.
Trans fatty acids
Trans fatty acids can be found in food that contains partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. The main sources of trans fatty acids in the diets of most people are hard margarines, shortenings, some baked goods like cakes, cookies, pastries and or foods fried in partially hydrogenated oils.