Cutting the Calories (and Carbs) at Restaurants

Doesn't this salad bowl, at Canmore's Communitea, just scream healthy and delicious?

Doesn’t this salad bowl, at Canmore’s Communitea, just scream healthy and delicious?

It’s early January, so most New Years’ resolutions have yet to be abandoned. Among the most enduring of these early-season pledges are to a) lose weight and b) eat more healthy foods.

But how do you manage this on a road trip, when cafes and diners are seducing you with groaning plates of pizza, burgers, fries, pancakes and pints? Comfort foods, they certainly are. Slimming, definitely not.

So here are seven road-food strategies for keeping the calories, carbs and love handles at bay.

  1. Think outside the bun

After a gnarly hike or eight-hour drive, there’s nothing more rewarding than a juicy burger and fries, jolting your system with upwards of 1,000 calories. Diminish that stomach punch by asking for the burger without a bun and replacing the fries with a salad or some steamed/sautéed veggies. You can still load up the patty with fixings like caramelized onions, mushrooms, avocado, bacon and, okay, a slice of cheese. Hey, fat ain’t the culprit here.

You could chop maybe 1,000 calories here by foregoing the bun and fries

You could chop hundreds calories here by ditching the bun and fries

  1. Beware the breakfast bomb

There’s nothing like starting the day with a meal designed to put you in a coma. How about a stack of hubcap-sized pancakes or three thick slices of French toast drowned in syrupy toppings? Or a plate of eggs with the requisite double-starch dose of hash browns and toast? Please, just give me a two-egg omelette—with sautéed veggies and maybe some bacon and cheese. Nothing else, except a lethally strong cup of coffee.

Horror story 1: There's another monster lurking under this platter-sized pancake

Horror story 1: There’s another monster lurking under this platter-sized pancake

Horror story 2: The typical double-carb dose of toast and hash browns

Horror story 2: The typical double-carb dose of toast and hash browns

How about a delightful a la carte omelette instead?

How about a delightful a la carte omelette instead?

  1. Minimize the Mexican

Whenever I go Mexican, I steer well clear of the ubiquitous all-inclusive platters, two-thirds of which are mounded with starchy rice and gluey, refried beans. These “fillers” are generally ghastly, gas inducing and guaranteed to provoke a midnight run to the bathroom. Much better to order a la carte items like tacos or a burrito smothered only in house-made salsa or green chile sauce.

  1. Sacrifice the sandwich

I must admit, the sandwich is my go-to lunch choice while on the road. All those layers of meats, cheeses and sauces make a delectable medley, especially when squeezed between two slabs of house-made focaccia bread. But if counting calories is paramount, I’ll ask to hold the bread and place those proteins atop a bed of greens.

  1. Go bowling

Salads are generally healthy, especially if you can avoid caloric-heavy dressings. But they are often a boring presentation of wilted greens adorned with sliced carrots and insipid tomato slices, finished off with an astringent vinaigrette. So I embrace the rising trend of bowls, filled with interesting, healthy, tasty things like warm brown rice, grated beets, toasted nuts and radish sprouts, all tossed with, say, a sesame-ginger dressing.

      1. Ditch the dessert

Cloyingly sweet. Excessive calories. Over priced. What’s to like? Declining dessert brings a bonus benefit: You won’t head into the night with a blood-sugar rush.

Why not finish things off with a six-inch-high slab of flapper pie?

Why not finish things off with a six-inch-high slab of flapper pie?

              1. Stick with spirits

Did you know a shot of whiskey contains zero carbs? A glass of wine maybe four grams? A pint of flavourful craft beer, on the other hand, might well top 20 grams of carbs and 200 or 300 calories… You know what? Screw it. No need to go overboard on these resolutions.

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6 thoughts on “Cutting the Calories (and Carbs) at Restaurants

  1. floridaborne

    Soft, warm bread fresh from the oven is my Nemesis. If I lived in France I’d go insane with the scent of freshed baked pastries. Oh…and key lime pie. When you have a key lime tree in your back yard, it’s hard to resist making one. :–)

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