10 Ways To Eat Healthy When Dining Out

By Sally Shi-Po Poon (Dietitian)

Hong Kong is known for its gluttonous cuisine; there are just so many unhealthy options for dining out. But when you do eat out, are you actually thinking about whether it’s good for your diet too?

Restaurant dishes are often higher in fat, sugar and salt—they’re also served in much larger portions than at home. So, if you’re not careful, dining out regularly can eventually lead to extra pounds.

To help combat this effect, here are some tips on eating healthy when dining out:

1. Choose fish and lean meats
Go with meats that are labelled loin or round—they’re leaner. Avoid fatty meats such as brisket, ribs, rib eye and jowl, and always remove the fat and skin from chicken and other poultry.

2. Go veggie
Substitute beans, eggs, tofu, or textured vegetable protein products for meat. And don’t forget about real vegetables! Always order a plate of salad or boiled vegetables with your meal, or choose dishes that have vegetables in them like stir-fried celery with chicken.

3. Cut back on oil
Limit oil or salt added to dishes, such as table salt, chilli oil, ketchup, oyster sauce, soy sauce, curry sauce and gravy. Substitute salad dressings with vinegar or lemon juice with a small amount of olive oil. Limit the use of creamy dressings and always ask for the dressing on the side.

4. Choose low-fat cooking methods
Steaming, boiling, baking, grilling or stir-frying with small amount of oil are the best ways to go. Also, try to ask the kitchen to use less oil when ordering your dishes.

5. Limit processed foods
Processed foods that are high in fat and/or salt include bacon, ham, sausages, preserved eggs or pickled vegetables, so try to avoid them.

6. Drink more water
Drink water, plain tea or clear broth with your meals. When it comes to cold beverages like lemon tea, milk tea or coffee, ask for less sugar or none at all—or request restaurants to serve the sugar separately.

7. Have fruit for dessert
Fruits have plenty of natural sugars that will still give you a sugar high, without all of the man-made, often chemical ingredients.

8. Eat slowly
Although you might be hungry at first, try not to scarf everything down in one go. Allow at least 20 minutes to finish your meal, and only eat until you are 70 to 80 percent full.

9. Don’t over order
Although it might be tempting, try not to order more than you can eat. When it comes to buffets, try a bit of everything; it’s a nice way to explore without overindulging.

10. Pack it to go
Don’t feel like you have to clean your plate. You can always take the leftovers home, and split your meal into two.

So there you have it—10 practical tips on how to eat healthy when dining out in Hong Kong. Now, there should be no more excuses… right?

Sally’s Nutrition Blog @ Hong Kong Tatler: http://hk.asiatatler.com/wellness/how-to-eat-healthy-when-dining-out

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