February 1, 2017

Dining to keep your heart healthy

General Health

As Wisconsin residents, we find ourselves battling the same things. The battle of explaining what a “bubbler” is to outsiders, the gamble of your car starting in the midst of a harsh winter, and lastly, eating right in the land of cheese and beer. Food is a big deal in Wisconsin’s culture, and it’s not uncommon to have grown accustomed to it.

We all know that eating healthy at home is typically a lot easier than dining out. However, it’s important when we find ourselves out to eat for family obligations, meetings, or social gatherings, that we know how to keep from neglecting our health.

February is recognized as American Heart Month. During this time, it’s especially evident how important it is to be taking care of our hearts. Among other factors that make for a happy heart – such as regular exercise and reducing or eliminating smoking habits – food is a huge way that we can take control of our cardiovascular health.

Some obstacles that stand in the way of people eating healthier foods can include a lack of understanding about nutrition, social influences, and time constraints. As a result, some may find themselves going out to eat a lot and whether it’s happening for the sake of convenience or due to embarking on a great expedition to tackle each of Wisconsin’s 300 supper clubs -knowing how to dine healthfully is critical for maintaining good health.

While creating healthy meals at home is ideal, sometimes dining out is inevitable. In order to combat situations in which you find yourself in the line of a drive thru or scanning menus, you can resort to these guidelines.

Heart healthy dining commandments

  1. Order oil and balsamic vinegar with your salads. Creamy dressings like ranch, a thousand island, and Caesar completely deplete the nutrients in a salad.
  2. Skip the starters. The baskets of chips and salsa, bread baskets and appetizers might calm your appetite until you get your food, but it’s an enormous increase of calories and fat in addition to your entree. Ease your hunger with a starter salad or light soup until you get your main dish.
  3. Order water instead of soda or juice. Similar to the starters, this is an excellent way to eliminate sugar and calories.
  4. Always take leftovers. Most restaurants give customers double the portion sizes, leading us to eat way more than we should.
  5. Avoid fried and breaded foods, especially when considering heart health. Staying away from foods fried in dirty oils and butter is vital when it comes to keeping your heart healthy and free from saturated fats.

Heart friendly restaurants near you

If you’re on the go:
Jimmy Johns changed the game for their health conscious, Veg Heads, and Gluten Free consumers. They did this by introducing what is called the “Un-Which” which contains all of the contents of a regular sub but it is wrapped in lettuce instead of French bread. While eliminating the freshly baked and most iconic part of Jimmy John’s subs might be disheartening, the 250 calorie reduction and extraordinary jump from 1,279.2 mg to 751 mg of sodium may be well worth it. For more information click here.

If you’re meeting with a friend:
The Brickhaus Cafe located on Milwaukee Street in Jefferson has an array of heart-healthy options. While local cafes don’t always have a nutritional guide, they have plenty of heart-healthy options available, so you can’t go wrong. From veggie and hummus platters, to fresh salads and smoothies, as long as you have a good eye for clean food, you can eat plenty of good heart healthy food there. Make sure to stay away from Paninis with heavy sauces and cheeses. For more menu options, click here.

If you’re out with the family:
The Fireside Theatre is a dinner theater located on Janesville Avenue in Fort Atkinson, and it is one of the most popular destinations for both fine dining and entertainment. Just like every other dinner theater, there are some hefty dishes on the menu. However, dishes like the Vegetarian Medley include wholesome ingredients such as “tri-colored Couscous, Quinoa, Onions, Carrots, Black Beans, and Corn flavored with Cumin and Cilantro cooked in a Vegetable Broth.” For more menu options, click here.

It’s hard out here in Wisconsin for a Foodie! While it can be easier to eat healthy meals when it’s under your control and under your roof, sometimes we find ourselves fulfilling obligations that require dining out. While it is not ideal to dine out often, it can be done successfully as long as you train your eye for clean menu items and keep yourself accountable to follow certain guidelines when dining at restaurants.

Eat mindfully, eat for your heart, and enjoy your healthy life in every circumstance.