Whether you're eating at an outdoor café or picking up takeout, here's how to feel good after every restaurant-prepared meal.

By Sara Dickinson
September 03, 2020
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Getty / Oscar Wong

We all love eating at restaurants and ordering takeout (the latter of which is something we've all done a lot more of over the last six months), but how do you keep your gut in check while doing so? Whether you have a gastrointestinal (GI) issue or not—or simply want to keep your digestive system on track—keep these nutrition experts' tips in mind the next time you spring for food delivery or outdoor dining.

Prioritize variety.

When it comes to general gut health, registered dietitian and nutritionist Lauren Adler Deal says it's all about variety. With a varied diet, you'll likely be getting FODMAP foods. "If you do not have digestive issues, certain carbohydrates that feed the gut bacteria, called FODMAPs, are good for your gut because bacteria keep your gut happy," she explains. High FODMAP foods to look for on a menu include fruit juice, wheat, couscous, milk, soft cheeses, yogurt, beans, lentils, artichokes, and asparagus.

Order with any GI issues in mind.

"If you do have digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), removing high FODMAP foods for a period of time may be helpful," Deal says. "It's important to do this with a registered dietitian." If your nutritionist recommends a low FODMAP diet, order entrées with avocado, banana, brown sugar, almond milk, arugula, bell peppers, and broccoli.

Go for glutamine.

Registered dietitian, nutritionist, and intuitive eating counselor Jamie Lee explains any menu item that is rich in glutamine is a winner. "Glutamine, which comes from the protein you eat, is a valuable amino acid," Lee says. "It feeds cells of the digestive tract and suppresses pro-inflammatory signaling pathways." Your best bet for ingesting this good-for you nutrient? Scan the menu for lean poultry, fish, milk, nuts, eggs, chickpeas, beans, and seeds, and order accordingly.

Finish off with tea.

Lee also recommends finishing a meal with tea, whether you do so at your table or sip on a night cap at home. "Many of the teas available at restaurants can support digestion, including cinnamon, fennel, ginger root, lemon, orange peel, papaya, and peppermint," she says.

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