...And no wonder people have these worries. At a restaurant, if you don’t ask the waiter to inform you, very often you have no idea whether a certain dish includes something you are not supposed to eat.
Let’s see the most common myths and misconceptions and how to avoid poor choices.
We gathered a number of tips to consider so you can continue enjoying the menu of restaurants while on a diet.
“Everything that includes vegetables is good”
...one of the biggest misconceptions of eating in a restaurant.
This is a common myth because many vegetables contain added fats for better flavour. Many methods (such as coating, sauté or grilling) make vegetables less healthy because they include the addition of oil or butter. And this severely increases the calorie intake.
Steamed vegetables and salads are a better choice when it comes to eating veggies. It is worth asking whether you can get another side dish instead of French fries, or you can even ask vegetables to be served without the addition of oil and butter. Here at Városliget, one of the most famous dishes has always been Liget salad in itself or served with grilled chicken, grilled cheese or fish, when in season. A great choice if you want to eat something light.
“Eating lots of salad will make me lose weight” – a tricky question
Many people automatically choose salads when on a diet or when trying to lose weight. This is a perfectly understandable decision since salads contain lots of fibre and nutrients. This is not always the case, however. The well-known Caesar salad, for example, contains much more fat than you would expect from a salad thanks to the croutons (small pieces of fried or toasted bread) and various dressings.
Bean salad, garden salad, Greek salad – these are much healthier alternatives instead of the traditional “healthy” ones. Those who are on a very strict diet might avoid feta cheese contained in Greek salad. When ordering, do not be afraid to ask modifications to the dish (but don’t do this once it has been served). And forget about dressings – lemon oil and vinegar are the smart choices. Here at Városliget we don’t even use these unhealthy dressings as they hide the real flavours of a dish. We prefer high-quality balsamic vinegar or oils of the Pödör company.
“If it’s vegetarian, it must be healthy”
It’s not only salads that have a misleading message, there is also a great number of vegetarian foods that are far from being healthy. The reason is that they are low in protein so they are not very filling. And the result? When eat much more than we need – and it’s almost guaranteed that we pick something from the dessert menu. Some dishes, such as “vegetarian lasagne” contain too much fat or they are prepared using unhealthy cooking methods.
If you wish to eat healthy vegetarian foods at a restaurant, try vegetables like chickpea, bean or lentil. These are rich in protein and fibres as well. Try to opt for tomato sauce instead of cheese sauce because cheese contains lots of fat.
And what about those carbohydrates?
Those who are not careful enough might fall in two traps here. One: completely avoiding carbohydrates, which then leads to eating lots of sweets. Two: eating too much of the bad carbohydrates. It is easy to get full with bread while waiting for your order. And many don’t even try to compensate the amount of calories consumed this way.
While on a diet, it is a good idea to select a side this other than potatoes in a restaurant. Foods that contain less calories but have a higher glycemic index tend to be more filling, and this sensation lasts longer.
Try to avoid bread (we know it’s hard to resist crispy hand-made bread) and order some sort of pasta as a main course. Keep an eye on the amount and quality of carbohydrates the various dishes contain and try to select our order based on this – get informed in advance and order a small portion if needed. Opt for roast potato or sweet potato, instead of French fries or mashed potato. In case you have any questions regarding the ingredients of certain dishes, feel free to ask our staff.
“Starve before dinner”
Never stay hungry before visiting a restaurant. You might end up eating too much bread, which we have already mentioned in the previous paragraph. If you are too hungry while waiting for your meal to be served, you might not even notice that you’ve started to eat those slices of bread. The biggest problem is eating your dinner without considering what you ate during the whole day.
Try to control our hunger with a low glycemic index protein bar or some yogurt. And when you arrive to the restaurant, don’t forget that even though olive oil contains healthy fats, it is still rich in calories as well. Try not to eat too much bread with olive oil.
“Fish is always an excellent choice”
Most diets recommend the consumption of fish on a weekly basis because they contain omega 3 fatty acids that have many beneficial effects. Since many people are unsure about how to prepare fish, they tend to eat it when they go to a restaurant.
The problem is that in many cases, fish is prepared using lots of butter or oil. And when eaten with French fries or mayonnaise, fish is really just piles of calories disguised as healthy snacks.
Steamed or grilled fish might be a good alternative. Fish carpaccio or ceviche are light dishes so you can take some extra salad or steamed vegetables as well. Try to get informed about sauces in advance, and try to ask for something healthier, if possible.