Life on a college campus often resembles a fast food utopia. Panera, Chipotle, Jimmy Johns, Potbelly and more all beckon from within walking distance of your apartment door. You often have to think harder about where to eat than the nutritional value of what you’re actually eating! Next time you go out to eat, keep these tips in mind to make your meal healthier.
1. Drink water
I always have a water bottle on me, or I get water when I go out to eat. Water will always be better for you than pop — period. If I’m having a craving for the sweet stuff, I only buy it in the mini 100-calorie cans. Everything is better in moderation.
2. Skip appetizers and unhealthy sides
Just glancing at a restaurant’s selection of appetizers makes me cringe. Cheese fries? Nachos? No thanks. And if you have the option, order healthier sides, such as veggies and fruit instead of bread or fries.
3. Get dressing on the side
Don’t you hate it when you order a salad in an effort to be healthy, only to have it delivered to the table drenched in dressing? Lettuce drowning in Caesar dressing is not going to do your waistline any favors. To avoid this, I request dressing on the side, then dip my salad in the dressing. This way I get just enough of the dressing so I can taste it, without all the calories and fat that are in restaurant dressing.
4. Avoid these ingredients
If you spot these words on a menu, there should be warning signs going off in your head. Dishes labeled deep fried, breaded, battered, creamy, crispy or alfredo are often going to be high in calories.
5. Check restaurants’ websites
Many restaurants, especially chains like Panera, have the nutritional information for their entire menu online. I always look up a restaurant’s menu before I go out to help me find something healthy and nutritious to order.
6. Limit the number of times you go out to eat
I have a weakness for Chipotle burrito bowls. Instead of indulging in them once a week, I limit myself to once a month. That way, I don’t make eating out a regular habit and it feels more like a treat when I do. (Fellow Chipotle addicts, check out chipotlefan.com and go to the burrito generator — it gives you the nutritional info for your order).