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Comfortable Environment Sets Mood for Better Choices When Dining Out

May 31, 2017 – Veterans know the combination of dining out and reduced physical activity can be bad for the waistline as they transition back to civilian life. But that doesn’t mean eliminating date night.

Knowledge and willpower are effective tools for enjoying a delightful, yet healthy, meal. Eating out should be special, not an excuse to over-indulge. Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) empowers veterans to use some basic guidelines to turn a night on the town into a healthier fine-dining experience.

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As an added benefit, eating healthy improves mental health. Reduced-calorie diets that include vegetables can help with depression.

When we are dining out, we are going to have more calories, bigger portion sizes, more sodium, more saturated and trans fats, and a higher sugar content – all bad things. But there are different strategies we can use to cut down on those extra calories, fat, sugar, and sodium.

We will explore three ways to make healthier choices during a night out on the town: scouting the menu in advance, creating a healthy and comfortable environment, and being salad-smart.

We started with scouting the menu in advance, so let’s move to creating a healthy and comfortable environment.

Put cellphones away, and establish a more relaxing mood that reduces impulsive eating.

Once the food arrives, eat deliberately. Savor the flavor. Slow down by drinking water and setting down your fork between bites. That gives your stomach a chance to tell you when it’s full.

Starches like pasta, rice, potatoes, and bread should be limited to a small, fist-size amount. Avoid salsa and chips, popcorn, and sugary drinks.

Restaurants often use grilled vegetables as garnish, so ask for your full portion. Also, have the server put half of your meal in a to-go container before serving the meal so it’s out of sight, out of mind.

Registering with WWP is a good way for veterans to stay on a healthy path, with access to Physical Health and Wellness events that include adaptive sports, nutrition coaching, and recreational activities. To learn other healthy tips for dining out, visit http://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/Wounded-Warrior-Project-Empowers-Veterans-to-Live-Heathier.

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