Flavor First, Fork Second

Spring is just around the corner with the sun making longer appearances and bright buds ready to bloom. It also means National Nutrition Month will be full of healthful tips and tricks of the trade provided by registered dietitians. In the spirit of National Nutrition Month, I hope to give you a little insight on how to Put Your Best Fork Forward this month and year-round when dining out.

As both a professional chef and restaurant reviewer, I’ve dined in my fair share of restaurants. From seedy hole-in-the-walls to top notch fine dining, there are a slew of ways to Put Your Best Fork Forward. Flavor doesn’t have to take a backseat when eating healthfully. Thinking through your options before diving in will ensure you leave satisfied, but still on track with your individual nutrition goals.

There’s a reason why registered dietitians love and emphasize the consumption of vegetables. They fill you up with nutrients and fiber without loading you down with excess calories. However, that doesn’t hold true if the veggies are doused in a heavy sauce full of cream, cheese or the like. You can live a little by ordering the sauce on the side, though. Put your best fork forward by practicing the fork-dip method. Pick the veggie up on your fork (or dining utensil of choice) and dip it sparingly into the sauce. That way each bite is packed with flavor and not needlessly drowned in the sauce. This will save you calories and give you the full appreciation for the vegetables. The same method goes for salads and dressings, too.

Don’t be afraid to order seconds when it comes to beverages. Water, unsweetened tea or seltzer with citrus wedges are great ways to stay hydrated and quench your thirst. Specialty cocktails, the second (or third) glass of wine and pints of beer add up on calories, but don’t necessarily satiate your stomach’s bank. Going out for drinks is one thing, but if you’re dining out, try shifting the focus to the conversation and quality meal ahead.

Sharing is caring when dining out. Many places are jumping on the bandwagon of tapas style dining, or small plates. Split a few of these small dishes with your date or group of friends. It’s an enjoyable way to try a variety of menu items without overdoing it and feeling uncomfortably full.

These are only a couple of general dining out tips, but it’s all a balancing act. Dining out has become a large part of our culture. Whether it’s celebrating a birthday, catching up with friends or even grabbing a meal on the way to/from work. Choose where you want to be a little decadent and where you can afford to be a little lean. When you Put Your Best Fork Forward during National Nutrition Month and throughout the year, you know you won’t be sacrificing flavor for nutritious bites.


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