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8 Healthy Habits of People Who Eat Out

8 Healthy Habits of People Who Eat Out

Did you know the average family eats out 5 times per week? That’s a lot of eating out! In order to eat out and maintain a healthy diet, the right frame of mind is important to have.  Understand the healthy habits and perspective below to help develop good eating habits that will last a lifetime.

Know the Food Groups.  Learning the foods that you should be eating each day along with their appropriate portion sizes and balance will help you make healthier choices at any meal, anywhere, anytime.

Moderation is the Key.  It is okay for kids to have their favorite tasty treats every now and then.  Order small portions of the most indulgent foods and larger portions of healthier ones to provide balance to your meals.  Shoot for mostly healthy foods and 1-2 treats per day on average.

Break Bad Habits.  Ask yourself if you are really hungry for your usual after-dinner chocolate or mid-afternoon soda, or if  you’re just used to having those foods at that time every day.  If not, then pass on the treat, or suggest replacing it with healthier fare.

Plan Ahead.  Many restaurants have menus available on-line, often with nutrition information.  Identify the better options at your favorite restaurants so that you will have some flexibility and healthy limits.

Cue into Appetite.  Start listening to your hunger and fullness cues and identify them as the signal to start or stop eating. This intuitive eating approach can help everyone avoid overeating and can also move you toward self-regulated eating.

Use Positive Thinking.  Focusing on the healthy foods that your family enjoys is much more productive than dwelling on the ones that you think you can’t have.  A “glass half full” mentality will make a healthy lifestyle easier to maintain long-term.  Also try to avoid labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” as this can distort you view of them.

Share.  Treats, such as decadent desserts, can be shared with the whole table or with another individual so that everyone can indulge without overindulging. Large entrees can be split between two children or one child and an adult.

Keep a Diary.  Food journaling is a great way to put you eating habits into perspective.  It can also offer some accountability.  Write down your food intake, physical activity, and thoughts and moods throughout the day for insight into the impact eating has on wellbeing.

Enjoying food in a healthy way is all about finding a balance that works for you. While ‘balance’ may sound mundane or boring, it is the secret to success. It involves balancing immediate pleasure with long-term health. Balancing healthy foods with the occasional treat. Balancing calories eaten with calories burned. Balancing food groups at each meal. Balancing restaurant dining with home cooking. How do you strike the healthy balance when eating out with your family?

Jill Castle Jill Castle is a registered dietitian/nutritionist with expertise in pediatric nutrition. She is the co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School, and creator of Just the Right Byte, a childhood nutrition blog. Follow Jill on Twitter @pediRD and Facebook.
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