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Here at Jenny, we’re all about helping you feel your healthiest, happiest best… and in our book, happiness has very little to do with feeling deprived. Dinner with the sales team? Cocktails with the girls? No problem! When our clients ask us for help making smart choices for meals out on the town, it’s second nature to us—partially because healthy habits are already part of our consultants’ personal lifestyles. To give you a little taste of that "dining, not-dieting" feeling, we’ve singled out a few common chain restaurant categories that typically give diners the opportunity to savor a great meal without splurging. Read on… and bon appétit!
All You Can Eat: Bottomless salad bars! Endless entrées! A virtual cornucopia of desserts! So how did an all-you-can-eat restaurant make the top of our healthy-eating list? If you stick with the salad bar, watch your portions, and choose one of those surprisingly tasty fat-free dressings, you’ll be treating yourself to a delicious, nutritious, low-fat, low-sodium meal. You can pile on as many fresh veggies as you want, but do be judicious about the nuts and legumes, and skip the cheese and croutons altogether. And when dessert rolls around, go for the fresh fruit instead of a mass-produced and so-not-worth-it brownie.
Wok Cooking: Now don’t get us wrong: This isn’t a free pass to indulge in a double helping of "Seven Flavor Chicken," and there are plenty of deep-fried no-nos in this category to tempt you. But in general, wok cooking employs more fresh vegetables and requires less oil than most frying methods—and for many menu options, super-healthy steaming is offered as an alternative. As with all family-style dining, you’ll have to watch your portions; and as with most Asian meals, you should be aware of sodium levels. But for overall flavor and nutrients, it’s hard to beat steamed mixed veggies with tofu and vegetarian lettuce wraps.
Modern French: The French have long been mystified for their ability to stay svelte while enjoying a diet rich in wine and cheese. At America’s ubiquitous (and only vaguely Francophilic) "café" chains, however, there’s usually no mystery to making smart choices. Most lunch and dinner menus offer patrons sensible portions and healthy pairings, such as grilled chicken with fresh fruit, and grilled fish with steamed vegetables. Just be sure to steer clear of any so-called "traditional" menu items, though; decadent meals like Beef Bourguignon can clock in at nearly 1,000 calories and 52 grams of fat. Sacrebleu!
Not sure you’ve got the willpower? For a little taste of some Jenny support, check out our great Dining Out Success Tips article for more ways keep to your next on-the-town meal 100% guilt-free.