Saturday, March 23, 2013

Eating Out on a Mediterranean Diet -- Guest Post by Kellie Burkinshaw

30 Day Mediterranean Lifestyle Challenge

Kellie Burkinshaw is a senior at the University of Maryland and is majoring in community health. She is currently working at LifeWork Strategies as one of the wellness interns. Her particular interests include fitness and nutrition when it comes to health and wellness. In her free time, she enjoys being active by playing women’s ice hockey, going to the gym, and spending time outdoors. She is super excited about having the opportunity to blog during ASHA's 30 day Mediterranean Lifestyle Challenge and to hear other people’s stories with the diet. 

Kellie mentions some good options for quick meals out below and links to a recent Zagat article that reviews 5 Mediterranean restaurants in the DC area. And, remember our partners at the Mediterranean Café. They created a special Sonoma Diet menu for us. 

Cava Mezze -- Image from
If you are like most, you probably eat out at least once a week or more and we don’t always pick the best meal options. I am guilty myself of going to fast food restaurants from time to time yet I always try to pick the healthiest meal option while there even though I may get that burger every now and then. When we do go to restaurants we tend to eat more than we intended to and pick high calorie meals. Restaurants often have very calorie dense foods and are cooked in unhealthy oils and fats.

Portion control is key when eating out at restaurants and making sure you limit the amount of food you eat at one sitting since restaurant portions are much bigger than normal size portions.  We usually eat till we feel full and often times we eat too fast to realize our bodies are actually full.

Personally, I like to enjoy my food and eat very slowly! One way that you can control your portions of what you eat is to only eat half of the meal that you order and have the waiter pack up the rest to take home with you for the next day. Typically I can never even finish my food so I usually end up doing this anyways before I even start eating. This will help control how much you eat in one sitting and prevent overeating. Another way to help you control portions is to share a meal with a friend. Restaurants will usually accommodate this by offering to separate the meal into two portions.

Aim to eat home cooked meals at least 5-6 nights a week and limit eating out to 1-2 nights per week when possible.  Cooking meals at home is the healthiest option because you can control how you cook your food and what you put in it vs. eating food that has been cooked and full of hidden and mystery ingredients.

When reviewing restaurant menu options, look for words such as broiled, grilled, steamed, or seared since they often contain lower fat and calories. Avoid meals that contain fried, crispy, buttered, and braised in the description list because these are the ones that contain high calories and fat and are the least healthy!

Try to keep in mind the Sonoma Diet plate sizes while you are out.  The Med Diet isn’t about restricting what you eat—you want to have a variety of food and can eat some items in moderation. You can find more tips and strategies for eating out on pages 149-155 of The New Sonoma Diet book.

The DC area has some great Mediterranean restaurants. Zagat recently published a list of 5 great ones to check out. 

Here are some of my favorite quick healthy Mediterranean food options:  

Panera: Check out their secret menu with some great Med options

  • Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad
  • Power Chicken Hummus Bowl

  • The Med Salad
  • Spinach & Fresh Fruit Salad

Chipotle: Build your meal online to check your calories in advance

  • Vegetarian Fajita Burrito Bowl (w/ Brown Rice) or Salad

Subway: Aim for a grilled chicken sub with lots of veggies on 6” whole wheat roll.


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