Dining out has become most everyone’s favorite pastime. Being a big part of the everyday lifestyle, it’s even become a necessity for some.
This is particularly true here in Jakarta, where people are always on the lookout for all things novel and adventurous, and new restaurants offering a variety of cuisine types are sprouting in every corner, rendering our options endless.
While dining out is a great way to unwind, meet new people, and engage in conversations, studies have shown that the more people you dine with, the more food and drinks you will consume.
Worry not, I am not here to counsel you to abdicate dining out. But here are some tips on how you can continue to enjoy your dining experiences in a smarter (healthier) way.
French food used to be notorious for being high in fat thanks to the French love of butter (think Julia Child). Luckily, the nouvelle cuisine has introduced a lighter, more delicate method of cooking. Now, before going on those fancy dinner dates, remember these few tips:
- French bread with olive oil dipping sauce
- Bordelaise or other wine-based sauces
- Have your greens to fill you up more quickly.
- Have your dressing on the side; use no more than 2 tbsp. of dressing. E.g. Salad with balsamic vinaigrette
- Roasted or steamed vegetables
- Peaches/pears in wine OR skim latte OR 1 glass of wine after the meal to keep the conversation going while keeping the hazard far from your waistline.
- Fatty croissants
- Creamy and buttery sauce such as Hollandaise, Mornay, Béchamel or Bernaise.
- Dishes with au gratin, au fromage, scalloped, sautéed. If sautéed, ask the waiter to use olive oil. By opting for olive oil in lieu of butter, you have saved yourself 6 grams/tbsp. of unwanted saturated fat (the kind that causes heart diseases).
- Pommes frites (French fries)
- Rich, high in fat, sugary desserts such as crème brûlée, chocolate mousse, or soufflé.
Chinese food usually comes in large portions as it is meant to be shared. But watch out because when you have a little of everything, it can turn into a whole lot of everything without your realizing. The trick is to order 1-2 fewer main dishes than the total number of eaters. Divide and devour!
- Control your portion by filling up your plate with however much you wish to eat before your first bite.
- Go east on the rice. 1 cup of rice = 250 calories, which is almost a meal on its own.
- Opt for the fish dishes. Look for dishes that are steamed, poached, and grilled. For amazing flavor, think garlic, ginger, and chili.
- Ask the waiter to go easy on the salt and/or soy sauce.
- Fill your plate the second or third time.
- Fried rice or hainanese rice.
- Deep-fried or pan-fried dishes.
- MSG (ask the waiter to omit in cooking).
To most, Italian food means pasta. Pasta is low in fat and GI (glycemic index: a measure of how quikcly blood sugar levels rise after eating a particular food; low GI means your blood sugar level won’t shoot up too quickly. Hence, you feel full for longer). However, it is the full-fat cheeses and creamy sauces that add the unwanted saturated fats and calories.
- Opt for low-fat sauces like marinara,vongole (white or red), aglio olio, andprimavera.
- Earthy, packed-with-nutrients minestrone soup.
- Order pizza toppings like mushroom, spinach, roasted peppers, and tomatoes.
- Refreshing Italian ices or sorbets.
- White, creamy sauces like Alfredo or Carbonara.
- Deep-friend calamari.
- Fatty, high-in-salt, processed meats like pepperoni, sausages, and bacon.
- Creamy cakes or pastries for desserts.
Meats (beef, lamb, pork, poultry) are a rich source of protein, iron, iodine, and vitamins, especially B vitamins. They are absorbed more easily by your body compared to non-meat sources such as legumes. However, many of us consume meat excessively, contributing to the extra calories and fats. It is always best to eat anything in moderation because excessive consumption of meat has been strongly linked to heart diseases, breast, prostate, and bowel cancers.
- On average, 1 person should be consuming 85-100 grams (3-4 ribs) of meat per day, 3-4 times a week. *85 grams = the size of a deck of cards or a fist.
- Choose leaner cuts such as flank, tenderloin, sirloin, or fillet mignon.
- Baked potatoes OR salad with dressing on the side OR steamed vegetables.
- Trim all visible fats before cooking or eating.
- When ordering 170 grams worth of meat for a meal, indulge in non-meat meals for the rest of the day.
- Consume red meat (beef/lamb) more than 2 times a week.
- T-bone, rib eye, or porterhouse
- French fries or coleslaw
Above are just a few among many other types of cuisine available. Go out and sample the variety. But remember, eat responsibly and enjoy a healthy, guilt-free, nutritious dining experience. Bon appétit!
Photo Credit: Google Images
This article was happily contributed by:
Delicia has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and a BSc in Food Science and Nutrition. Her loves are simple: all things yummy and pretty. Oh, and she also fancies traveling. Delicia works as a freelance nutritionist and dietitian while pursuing her life purpose of fishing for many many more yummy things!