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Reshaping Your Health: Eating Healthy Away from Home

When you’re at home, it can be easier to eat healthy because you’re in control of what you keep in your panty. But what steps can you take when you’re away from home to help you stay on track with your diet plan? We asked diabetes prevention program participants and Danielle Repko, an American Council on Exercise-certified health coach with OhioHealth Group, for their advice. Here’s what they had to say.

How to eat healthy when you’re on-the-go

  • Pack meals and snacks the night before or meal-prep at the beginning of the week so you can grab and go as needed.
  • Pack a bottle of water and a small snack for long trips, like a bag of almonds or a piece of fruit, to keep you from making impulse stops for high-calorie treats.

How to make healthy choices at restaurants

  • Look up the restaurant menu and pick out what you are going to eat before you get there.
  • Avoid foods with sauces, butter and dressings or ask for them on the side so you can dip your fork and still get a taste.
  • If eating out is a special treat, adjust your calorie intake the rest of the day.
  • Pick and choose your treats. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. For example, if you want fries, get them, but instead of a burger to go with your fries, choose a grilled piece of chicken or fish. If you want the burger, get a side of steamed veggies.
  • Split your meal with your companions or ask the restaurant to bring a box with your meal so you can box half of it to take home before you eat.

How to make healthy choices at social events

  • Eat a healthy snack before you go.
  • Assess all of the options before you eat anything. Decide which few you will actually put on your plate or opt to only eat very small portions of many. You can compare it to shopping — you wouldn’t buy the first thing you see, would you?
  • If invited to dinner or a potluck, ask what they’re serving ahead of time and offer to bring a healthy dish you know you’ll love.
  • Challenge yourself to focus on other aspects of the social event instead of the food there, like dancing, talking to friends and relatives, or actually watching the game.

Repko adds that the most important thing you can do is to make a plan and try to stick to it. “Food shouldn’t be something you’re afraid of. You should be able to enjoy it. The key to eating well away from home is to choose what you’ll let yourself be treated to and make plans to accommodate it.”

Update your diabetes prevention action plan to include the ways you plan to make healthy choices away from home. And if you find you’re struggling, revisit it. “Understand plans sometimes need to be retooled,” says Repko. “You can’t plan for every scenario, but you can make adjustments.”

And if you need extra help, join an official Diabetes Prevention Program! Check with your employer (OhioHealth offers a program for associates), your local YMCA or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of recognized locations to find a program near you.

Download a PDF with quick tips for eating out


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