Cafeterias offer a wide array of healthy choices. All you need to know is what food to put on your tray. Follow these tips to help plan your meal selection, and find out what options are best for you.
1.- Rethink your drinks: we drink close to 300 calories daily. Think about how frequently you consume sugared drinks like soda, soft drinks, cappuccinos, energy drinks, juice or sweet tea. Drinking water instead of sugared drinks can help you keep daily calories under control.
2.- Enjoy food, just less of it: everyone loves those all-you-can-eat restaurants! To tame the urge to overeat, pick smaller portions and use small plates. Remember you can always go for seconds if you’re still hungry.
3.- One half of cereal products should be whole-grain! Whether it’s a sandwich or cereal that you’re ordering for breakfast, always ask for wholemeal products like oatmeal and whole wheat bread.
4.- Know your diet: many cafeterias display nutritional information on their menus. Go over it beforehand so that you’re ready for a healthy, balanced meal, come lunchtime. Having a plan is the first step towards smarter food choices!
5.- One half of your plate should be filled with fruits and veggies: make meals tastier, more attractive and nutritious with fruits and vegetables. Add them to pasta, eggs, pizza, sandwiches, and soup. Pizza goes great with pineapple, the same with spinach and fajitas.
6.- Order them the way you like! Don’t believe that prepared plates are better. Create your own meals! In the late afternoon, order an omelet with fresh veggies from the salad bar. As your nonfat source of protein, use tofu from the pasta section.
7.- Go easy on the dressing: salad dressings tend to by high in fat and sodium. Pay attention to dishes that have been prepared using a lot of oil or butter, or served with heavy condiments such as mayonnaise. Your dish doesn’t necessarily have to come with a predetermined serving of sauce already on top, instead you can order the right amount or ask for it on the side. Reducing those extra calories will help you maintain a healthy weight.
8.- Careful with those salad bars! Most vegetables are fine, but fat and sodium contained in olives, noodles, fried bread, potato and pasta salad (prepared using oil and mayonnaise) should be kept under tabs. Choose dressing with little or no oil, and have it served on the side.
9.- Save dessert for special occasions: leave dessert for Friday nights or that special occasion. When you’re really craving something sweet, opt for a healthier alternative like fruit, yogurt, or both.
10.- Don’t turn the cafeteria into a hangout: cafeterias are for eating, not lounging. Although it’s great talking to friends over lunch, lingering at the cafeteria can tempt you to keep eating.