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Top 5 Healthy Restaurant Swaps
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We all know eating out at restaurants while trying to follow a diet, regimen or routine can be a challenge - lack of flexibility with ordering, lack of control of what’s in our food, impulsivity and temptation, are all working against us. So, we asked health coach and type 1 diabetes expert, Lauren Bongiorno, how to balance it all out. You can also read our full interview with Lauren here, where we discuss her business and common misconceptions about diabetes.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to those trying to follow a diet, routine or regimen when eating out in restaurants?
"In all of the clients I’ve worked with and in my own personal experience, the more you try to control food, the harder having a healthier relationship to it is. Instead of focusing on dieting or "good or bad" foods, focus instead on asking yourself, “What would best serve me in this moment?” and “What emotion is at the root of this decision?” Creating more awareness around why you choose the foods you do will take you a lot further than any diet will."
What are your top 5 healthy swaps you recommend trying when eating out?
"When I’m eating out, I’m looking to create a meal that has low glycemic carbs, is higher in fiber, and is paired with some protein and fat. Sometimes the meal will check all 3 boxes, sometimes it will only check one. But here are a few hacks I personally use when I’m out!"
1. Wrap your sushi in cucumber
"Wrap your sushi rolls in cucumber instead of sticky rice. At many sushi spots you can order a “naruto” roll, which subs out the rice for cucumber. I usually get two rolls, one with rice and one without. It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” and you can find what works best for you!"
2. Lettuce wrap instead of a bun
"Swap a lettuce wrap for the bun on a burger or sandwich. If I know I’m going to want some french fries, I may balance my meal out by subbing the burger bun out for a lettuce wrap to control my carb intake. Even if you don’t see it on the menu, most places can do it if you ask."
3. Swap quinoa or beans for rice
"Swap quinoa or beans for rice. Both quinoa and beans have carbs just like rice, but they have a lower glycemic index. This means they won’t spike your blood sugar as quickly as a higher glycemic food like rice will."
4. Half Zucchini Noodles, Half Pasta
"We all love pasta, but eating a full plate of pasta can leave you feeling sluggish and craving more carbs. Try splitting your dish with half spiralized zucchini, half pasta. This is a hack I use at home, but have gotten at restaurants as well! Try cutting the pasta portion in half, and supplementing the rest with a vegetable like spiralized zucchini. Bonus points if you can get your hands on a chickpea or red lentil pasta."
5. Veggie sticks for chips
"Swap veggie sticks for chips when you order guac. Mexican food is my jam but eating a whole bowl of chips can leave me feeling sluggish! Whenever you order chips and guacamole, ask the waiter to also bring you over a side of crisp vegetables like carrots, daikon, and celery."
Lauren Bongiorno, founder and CEO of Risely Health, is challenging the current healthcare system and the world of diabetes management through her company's innovativehealth coaching programs and online educational classes. Lauren has navigated Type 1 Diabetes first hand since she was 7 years old and believes that when health transforms, so does everything else- our relationships, our time, our career, our families, and, most importantly, ourselves. Georgetown medical students are currently researching Risely's methods to publish the quantitative and qualitative results clients see in their programs. Lauren has been featured on the TODAY Show, is partnered with two of the largest diabetes technology companies, and is making waves in the diabetes space on both an individual and systemic level.