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Skinny Restaurant Challenge

by Skinny Ms.

For the entire month of July, you are being challenged to eat ‘Skinny’ when going to your favorite restaurants. What do we mean by eating ‘Skinny’? 1) Eat healthier  2) Eat on salad sized plates (about 7″) and follow the guidelines of June’s Skinny Plate Challenge. Below we have outlined tips for eating healthier when eating out which will help make this challenge a BIG success.

It is summer time again! And summer time normally means “travel” time! We are all packing up the car to head out on road trips to grandma’s house or to some great theme park or beach. But, what happens to our healthy eating habits when we are stuck in the car for two or three days or staying in a hotel? We tend to stop and enjoy popular food chain restaurants while traveling, it is almost inevitable to stop at places such as Cracker Barrel, Subway, Taco Bell, or Sonic.  The fast food chains go on and on! You may notice that in some chain restaurants they will offer a “lighter side” menu, such as Cracker Barrel. Their menu offers a low carbohydrate section, salads, and tasty alternatives!  Although chain restaurants are more common, you can usually find local restaurants that may offer locally grown vegetables or free range meat.

But, regardless of where you stop, in most cases restaurant meals are never going to be the healthiest for you.  We are sorry to disappoint you!  The food may melt in your mouth, and that special sauce may be to die for, but it’s never going to be as healthy as you might think.

The restaurant’s menu may give us the title of a meal, how its cooked, and what comes with it, but does it tell us the brand of chicken?  Where the chicken was raised?  What exactly is mixed in that thick creamy sauce?  Or what about the measurement of butter that was used in those mashed potatoes along with a mound of sour cream.  We don’t even want to know what they use to make those delicate looking desserts covered in chocolate or filled with fake fruit!  The sugar, the lard, the butter, white flour, and oh the list could go on!

Restaurants are so convenient these days for the average working family, but little do you know how fast the calories can add up! That’s where this month’s Skinny Challenge comes in! Challenge yourself this month to limit eating out and when you have no other choice, make the effort to eat steamed or grilled foods, not fried! Also, opt for more veggies and lose the extras, like cheese, sauces, and extra meat. Ask for water with lemon instead of soda or fruity drinks. Don’t forget! Portion control is also the key; you will want to carry over June’s Skinny Plate Challenge by limiting your portions to the size of your fist and limit to three servings of food per meal, for example, chicken, steamed veggies, and baked potato – each serving size about 4 ounces.  Skinny Ms. has done a little research  to help you while eating out:

Common Q&A about Fast Food:

Q: Are buffet style restaurants healthy?

A: As a general rule, no.  Sometimes they offer salad bars with fruit, but regardless of the fruit and salad, the fact it has been sitting out so long can not be good.  It’s healthier to go to a restaurant where things are made fresh.

Q: Are all Chinese/Japanese foods off limits?

A: If you can find a restaurant that serves brown rice instead of white or fried rice, that takes off a few hundred calories.  Always get a dish of vegetables, and stay away from the “fried” or “sweet” rice and fatty meats.  Normally these types of restaurants do offer stir fry and lean cuts of meat, which are good alternatives.

Q: What is considered fast food?

A: We consider fast food anything with a drive through.  This would include McDonald’s, Burger King, Krystal’s, Zaxby’s, and ect.  So just avoid those places if possible.  If not possible, we’ve included a video with tips on eating healthier when going through the drive-thru.

Q: What’s better for you, local or chain restaurants?

A: It honestly depends on the restaurant.  Sometimes local places will have freshly grown vegetables, and possibly get their meat locally.  However, there are some local restaurants that just buy products from the supermarket and they are normally processed foods.  It helps to do your research on the restaurant.  Once more, we encourage you to use the internet to look up reviews and look up chain restaurants websites with nutritional information. A place like Chipotle for instance, claims to use mainly all organic and grass fed and free range meat, which could be an alternative when traveling.

Below are some examples of Good v. Bad meals:

(All meals were found on the restaurant’s nutrition guides provided online)

Panera Bread is a pretty common place for people to stop in and grab a quick breakfast!  Who can resist their tasty pastries?!  No worries, they also have good options too! Here we are going to compare two meals and see which is better for us.

Meal Calories Fat g Saturated Fat Cholesterol Sodium Carbs Fiber Sugar Protein
French Toast Bagel Breakfast w/Sausage 670 30 14 250 1280 69 2 16 29
Steal Cut Oatmeal w/ Blueberries &Granola 320 9 2.5 0 160 55 8 21 6

For those coffee fanatics out there a regular 16 fl oz Mocha has 78 g of sugar, a 16 fl oz Vanilla Latte w/ Sugar Free Syrup has only 12 g of sugar, or a plain black coffee has zero sugar in it.  For the restaurant challenge we ask that you eat as health as you know how so the regular coffee with no sugar would be the best option!  As for the meals in the chart above, rather than get the bagel we would choose the steel cut oatmeal with blueberries and granola!

Chili’s is another restaurant that is common in the United States:

Meal Calories Fat Sat. Fat Carbs Protein Fiber Sodium
Crispy Honey-Chipotle Chicken Crispers w/Ranch (w/side) 1660 76 13 196 54 13 4,110
Classic Sirloin (no side) 220 9 4 1 34 0 810
House Salad 150 6 3 18 7 3 220
Citrus Balsamic Vinaigrette 250 25 4 6 0 0 220
Sirloin w/Salad w/ citrus balsamic vinaigrette dressing 620 40 11 25 41 3 1,250

The classic sirloin with the salad as listed above is absolutely delicious!  So just take a chance to compare all the nutritional qualities, obviously the chicken crisper is the meal you would want to avoid, opting for the sirloin and salad instead.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ib7yH3GxyQs&feature=related']

Remember to have no fear of being different or demanding when eating out!  You deserve the healthiest meal they can offer so go for it!

None of the information contained in this challenge is intended to replace qualified, medical advice. Please seek qualified advice from your doctor before beginning this challenge.





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