January 30, 2019
CHICAGO – Going out is a Valentine's Day treat. To make a restaurant experience healthful and nutritious as well as fun or romantic, plan your plate before you leave the house, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
"Selecting healthful foods while dining out doesn't have to dampen your fun for Valentine's Day or any time of year," says registered dietitian nutritionist Wesley Delbridge, a national spokesperson for the Academy. "Before heading to the restaurant, check out the menu on its website. Many online menus even have nutrition information available."
Watch for the wording of the items on the menu.
"Look for words like 'grilled,' 'broiled' or 'steamed,' which means the food is cooked with less fat," he says. "Look for healthful items such as whole-grain pastas, fruits and veggies and lean proteins. Plan to substitute a healthier side dish to accompany your meal and to ask for sauces on the side."
Don't go to the restaurant overly hungry.
"If you are ravenous, you'll be more likely to scarf down several pieces of bread or an appetizer before your meal arrives," Delbridge says. "Plan ahead by eating light, healthful meals during the day so you can keep your hunger in check before dinner."
Watch your portion sizes.
"Most restaurant meals are huge, so consider packing a to-go box before you start eating to help you maintain correct portion sizes," Delbridge says.
Savor your romantic meal.
"It takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that you are full, so take that time to enjoy the company of your Valentine," Delbridge says. "Give your body time to let you know if you really want that second helping of food."
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at eatright.org.