Medical schools require a dense core content in the background of the “hard sciences.” Dense in biology and chemistry, two semesters of physics, and biochemistry strongly recommended.

Now, if you’re reading this blog, you are probably familiar with the fact that I haven’t been a traditional pre-medical student from the start. My undergrad concentration was in nutrition with minors in biology and sociology, and on top of those things, I took the required pre-medical coursework (that coincided well with the chemistry portion of a nutrition degree). ANYWAY. Along my degree-concentrated coursework, I found specific courses more beneficial than others. Here you will find some of the courses I strongly recommend taking alongside your degree ~ not only to benefit you if you’re going into the medical field, but also to get the most out of your college experience. 🙂

“Maddie, what did your undergrad look like?” Me: ^

Statistics

Many medical schools prefer that you have a statistics course anyway, but if you have the option to, I strongly recommend it. I took sociological statistics (sociology minor here), and having that under my belt, especially early on in my undergrad, helped me to understand academic journals and studies far better than I would have without it. Knowing what the p value is in a study and when to draw conclusions about data is pretty important when trying to make sense of academic work. This is part of what sets us apart from claims, fads, and trends that have no validity.

Ethics

Any ethics/philosophy course will give you a great new perspective on things, but if your school offers a medical ethics/ethics in healthcare course, I strongly recommend this. In my course, our professor assigned readings on “hot” topics such as abortion, intersex individuals, in vitro fertilization, and plenty others. But it didn’t end here; we had civil, professor-lead discussions on various perspectives regarding these arguments. It helped me to think about these complex issues not only from a different perspective, but in a way that challenged the way I thought about these issues. It lead me to the belief that there is not “right” answer to each of these problems and that each case is unique and should be decided on individually. My professor was a phenomenal communicator and never influenced my opinion throughout the semester. He now teaches a similar course at the medical school.

Nutrition

Yeah, yeah yeah, I have a degree in nutrition. And there is a lot I want to do with my degree with intentions of going into the medical field. And I’m a huge advocate for nutrition for simply the general public. My biases aside, on the first day of my first nutrition course my professor stated that less than 25% of practicing physicians have ever taken a basic nutrition course (if you want to know more about why I chose nutrition as my college degree, click here).

Patients go to their doctors for advice for being well, and many of us know that diet/nutrition is a large portion of this. While physicians are not considered nutrition experts, having a foundation in nutrition will help in the future. And not only that, nutrition science is dense in chemistry and biochemistry; you never know what might help you down the road in those more difficult courses. It helped bridge a gap between just knowing the chemistry and actually putting it to application (hint hint, they’ve helped me a lot ;)).

Medical Terminology

My job has exposed me to the majority of my medical terminology knowledge (one of the many reasons why I believe in the importance of clinical experience as an undergrad), but taking a basic medical terminology course may help you bridge the gap between the terms and “real life.” My school offered a 1-credit-all-online-at-your-own-pace medical terminology course and I’m really glad I took it. Despite being exposed to it from work, I learned a lot.

Anatomy & Physiology

Again, not required for entrance into medical school, nor for the MCAT. Many of my biology friends ended up taking anatomy as an elective their senior year, but my degree required I take both of them my sophomore year. Having a deep understanding of both A & P helped me with my other upper-level science courses I took down the road and helped the other things make more sense. Not to mention, my school was one of the few undergraduate schools in the country to offer a human anatomy based lab. Yes, our school was fortunate enough to receive our anatomy education on human donors. This gave the experience a whole different perspective that I will never forget.

Helping Skills/Counseling

My nutrition degree curriculum required I take a 100-level introduction to counseling course and as much as I dreaded it, I got so much out of the course. My professor gave us skills on how to interact with patients/clients and how to lead a counseling session in different ways. We practiced things from motivational interviewing to specific language that helps our patients feel more cared for. This included not using the phrase “at least…” but rather, “that must’ve been hard for you” or “you’re so brave for what you’re going through.” Not only do I recommend this to those that want to go into medicine, but for really anyone who wants to become more of an empathetic individual 🙂


My mentality with college was that I was in a great time in life to explore and take advantage of the opportunities you’re give in that period of time – you’re not likely to be able to take some of those classes ever in life. I also took some sociology courses (deviant behavior and research methods) that had nothing to do with my degree that I still reference often!

I have friends that took ballroom dancing, metalworking, painting, ballet, yoga, and several others. I also had friends that took aviation courses (and subsequently got their private pilot’s licenses) because… why not? So my advice to you, besides these specific courses I recommend (if you’re in the healthcare field), get out there and explore the other options while you’re in college! Why not? Thanks for reading!

xx,

M

First off, phew. It is been a ride these last five years! Part of me can’t believe it’s over and can’t stop thinking “where did the time go?” but the other part of me is feeling extremely relieved.

I will never forget the day I registered for classes in July of 2014. I had just graduated high school (with a great amount of senioritis), and was itching to get out in the “real world.” I’ve had a dream that came with a plan since I was in early high school and I was going to do anything I needed to in order to achieve that lofty goal. I was going to become a physician. I could feel it in my bones. I pictured myself in my white coat and hospital-owned scrubs with my stethoscope around my neck. In my mind, I was so close to this opportunity.

The month before this freshman orientation, I got a call from the tennis coach at my school where I’d be starting in August, with a request for me to join the tennis team. Now, this is a bit of side story, but it’s important, just trust me.

After having said “YES” a bit reluctantly at first, I realized that being on a sports team in college was going to shift mindset a little, I mean, I had played high school tennis for 5 years so I was used to this. But not in the way that I had imagined. I was excited and nervous to be offered this opportunity, so I took it!

Let’s fast forward to the July day when I registered for my first college classes. I got my student ID photo taken, my mom attended the “parents in college” orientation, and I met with an academic advisor. I will never forget the words, “you will NEVER accomplish all of this in 5 years” at my academic advising meeting. I was heartbroken. How dare someone tell me what I can/cannot accomplish! Little did I know, this was a defining moment for me. And a wake up call at best!

july 2014 on campus for new student orientation!

I told this man that I would be on the tennis team, taking honors courses, would be a dietetics major (with two semesters of clinicals), and taking pre-medical courses. I thought I could take it all on, and boy was I wrong.

After leaving orientation, I cried in the car with my mom. I just wanted so badly to go through college and start medical school. Why did I feel a compelling need to move on with my life? My mom reassured me that it would be alright (duh, Maddie, DUH), and that we would come up with something. I remember her saying, “so you have to go another year, what’s the big deal?” She was right. And little did I know, going that extra year would be one of the better decisions I’ve made in my life.

Flash forward to now. What have I gotten out of spending this “extra year” in college? Let me tell you.


I spread out my credits.

I didn’t have to take HUGE credit loads each semester. The pre-medical coursework is tough and dense in science. Those of you who know, these courses are all on you. You can’t rely on any extra points given for “participation” or “worksheets.” It’s YOU. You’re the one determining how much studying you’ll be doing and how prepared you’ll be for those exams. I was able to spread some of the courses out while taking more sociology courses. It gave me a great balance between the courses and I believe contributed to my success.

I was able to “balance” school and playing tennis, and then later school & work.

last collegiate tennis match 🙂

Because I took on a smaller course load (credit-wise) per semester, I was able to focus well on a few courses and also participate on the tennis team. As a side note, being a collegiate athlete is far more time-consuming than a high school one. I volunteered, practiced around 20 hours a week, and attending team events. Having this structure actually helped me prioritize my needs and I believed helped me even beyond my athletic years.

I minored in two fields I am also passionate about.

When I started college, I intended on becoming a dietitian and then a doctor. I felt ambitious and ready to take on the world as I previously mentioned. Instead of taking on this extremely clinical-based path, I changed my major from dietetics to nutrition. My degree was focused on public health and government-program based nutrition rather than clinical nutrition. Because of this, I was required to take several sociology courses and as a consequence, I fell in love with that field. The MCAT (or Medical College Admissions Test) now has a “behavioral science” section with plenty of sociology.

Growth.

With anything, I have learned there is no need to rush good things. In my last year of college, I felt the same feeling of “senioritis” I felt during my senior year of high school that I hadn’t felt in my fourth year. Though my year was tough both emotionally and academically, I learned plenty about myself and what I want to become. I don’t think that the extra year can ever harm a person; it just gives you more of a shot at developing and experiencing more and more valuable things. I was able to extend my college experience and prolong these amazing years of my life by just one more. In that amount of time, I lived with friends, and wrapped up my favorite (but difficult) course! And now, I am a college graduate.

best degree ever. 😉

So no, I wasn’t able to go straight to medical school like my 18-year-old self had imagined, but my life experiences along the way were invaluable and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. If someone tells you you might have to go to school a little longer than you initially thought, trust in the process!


Thanks for reading!

xx,

M

Here, you’re going to find my guide to reducing waste, getting the most out of your money, and enjoying your food! College students, moms & dads, single girls (and guys) who want to make the most of the food you spend your money on, keep on reading!

Freeze.

Raw, frozen vegetables can be roasted, sautéed, or used in any dish fresh vegetables are cooked in. Frozen fruit is perfect for smoothies, on top of oatmeal, and in baked goods. What if you made too much of an entree? Freeze it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or in a specific, spendy, trendy container. It can be a Ziploc bag or an air-tight container. Just make sure you remove as much air as you can to preserve and maintain freshness and reduce freezer burn. Always date the bag so you know how long it’s been stored. Frozen goods can last up to a year depending on how well it’s sealed. 🙂

Plan. 

Those that know me know that I am a blend of a planner and letting spontaneity take its chance. That being said, I enjoy having a tentative plan of what I’m going to eat throughout the week; what I will have for snacks, which fruits I’ll purchase, and what I’ll cook ahead of time. This is no-fail, because if I decide to eat out with friends and I still have food at home, I can eat it for breakfast or lunch the next day. I am a huge fan of cold pizza for breakfast.

Be flexible.

I don’t believe in any specific foods only being eaten for breakfast, or any specific foods being eaten for dinner. I will eat fried rice leftovers for breakfast after a workout (with a fried egg for protein), and I’ll make whole-wheat waffles for dinner. America is one of the few cultures in the world that eats dessert-like items for breakfast (donuts, coffee cakes, jumbo muffins, sweet rolls, chocolate chip pancakes, etc). I believe that having the mindset that food does not need to be eaten at certain meals, at specific times, and as certain meals opens up a lot of opportunities. At the end of the week, it isn’t too unlikely you’ll find my roommate and I making breakfast sandwiches for dinner.

Buy in bulk. 

Heading to your local co-op provides you the opportunity to buy in bulk. This means getting larger quantities of non-perishable foods that can be stored on the shelf for a long time and used when needed. Some of my favorite items to buy in bulk include nuts, oats, chia seeds, dried fruit, lentils, beans, rice, and quinoa. Buying in bulk keeps these foods accessible and on hand whenever you need. AND, it reduces cost! Win, win.

Store.

Invest in some high-quality food storage containers. I prefer the glass Pyrex containers; they are microwaveable, don’t taste like plastic, and last a long time. Before I eat a meal that I’ve cooked (in which I know there will be leftovers), I make sure to store the leftovers in these containers. This not only helps save food for the week, but helps to portion it as well.


What other methods do you use to help you save money and eliminate food waste? Let me know! Thanks for reading as always!

Xx,

M

Let’s face it. We all spend plenty of time on our iPhones. But it doesn’t ahve to be all wasted time. Here, you will find my comprehensive guide to getting the most out of using your iPhone. From apps, features, and some of my favorite things! I hope this guide will help you get the most out of using your iPhone and other Apple devices. 😀 Enjoy!

Features:

Bedtime: 

Within the clock app, Apple added a new feature in 2016 for users to help keep a consistent sleep schedule. For someone like myself who doesn’t have much of a regular sleep schedule, it helps! Each night, I am able to set an approximate time that I want to be sleeping, and set when I want to wake up. It calculates how long you’ll be sleeping based on when you set it. It then goes on to track a sleep history over time in the Health App so the user is able to get a feel for how well and how long they are sleeping for.

My favorite feature of all is the ringtones associated with this feature. They are somewhat tranquil sounding and gradually get louder as to not startle a person as they’re waking up. 

Screen Time: 

On the most recent iOS update in 2018, you’ll discover this wonderful feature. Within the settings app is the the tab titled “Screen Time.” Here, you can look and see how much time you spend on your phone every day. It also allows you to break down the amount of time spent on which apps so you can see where you spend your time. I have added “caps” to my social media apps each day (no more than 2 hours spend on them total per day). This really helps me to stay off my phone when I need to be productive. It also reminds me how ridiculous I feel for spending so much time on my phone. Seriously. 

Night Shift:

This feature was added to an iOS system to help your eyes from being strained while looking at your phone. You as the user are able to adjust how “warm” you wish your screen to look and when. I personally keep my phone on night shift most of the day and night. Way to go Apple!!!


Apps [all free!!]:

Sleep Cycle: 

Another sleep-tracking app. It does its best to analyze how well you slept (by using the microphone feature), and gives you a look at how long you slept, and the quality. It is a great app to try if you want to try to improve you sleep quality or are wondering why you aren’t sleeping well. You get a diagram on feedback for the hours you slept and and quality of your sleep at that time.

White Noise Deep Sleep Sounds:

Speaking of sleeping… If I am having trouble sleeping, I prefer the “fan” setting and I sleep well. It’s nice to have on hand while studying, too. There are plenty other white noise features including an airplane cabin, thunder, wind, and plenty other relaxing sounds.

Event Countdown:

My favorite way to look forward to events to incentivize challenging tasks. I currently have one of my best friends’ weddings noted, when my next races are, and soon, my MCAT date. EEK! 

Flipd:

This app sets a timer that helps with productivity. You can choose to lock your phone so that you aren’t able to use it (perfect for studying). You’re able to pick the amount of time you want to keep it locked for and the amount of time you want.

Kaplan MCAT Flashcards:

I like to have these on-hand. Any bit of studying counts, and if I’m sitting waiting in a line, I can quickly and easily review! 

Resuscitation!:

Ok, Maddie, you’re a nerd, we get it. This is my favorite “game” on my phone. You get to choose a medical speciality and case and you’re the provider. You must review the patients’ symptoms and medical history, then head to the exam where you then order diagnostic labs and imaging, and bedside intervention where you then make a diagnosis and disposition and you’re consequently scored on how you did. I have learned so much from this app!!!


Get productive – I hope this helped! What are your favorite iPhone features and apps? Send me an email or shoot me a message on instagram! Thanks for reading!

xx,

M


Finals are among the most stressful occurrences for students everywhere – college students, graduate students, and everyone, everywhere. We are tested on material taught over the course of 16 weeks crammed into 5 short days. While this time period can be stressful, lacking sleep, and full of anxiety, I have learned some habits that help me thrive in this critical time period that happens at the end of every semester. 

What’s left?

What is left in each course? Chapter 22 homework? A lab report? Each exam you’ll be taking? Make a list. Of EVERYTHING. Add the dates & deadlines. Simply writing these things down eases any bit of panic. You won’t miss a single thing! And this way, as soon as a task is done, nothing beats the gratification of crossing things off a list. I hang mine up where I can see it until the last task is done! 

Break it down.

About two weeks prior to finals, with my comprehensive list of academic tasks and deadlines, I make tentative plans for each day in both my paper planner and on the sticky notes on my computer. This way, I have it available wherever I need it. This helps me stick to the plan. I start by making a (reasonable) list of everything I wish to accomplish that day. 

Sweat.

Getting in a good workout is essential to my success. It grants me mental clarity and focus, and I feel great afterwards. It’s also a great distraction from the stress of exams and studying. When I exercise during this time, I do not bring any study material with me to attempt to read over. I designate time for the gym and crank up the tunes. One hour at the gym is not going to cause you to fail. In fact, it may even help you do better. 🙂

Clean up.

Every exam period, I clean my bedroom and organize the parts that may have become disordered from the craziness of the semester. This includes recycling old papers and receipts, clearing off my desk space, washing my bedding, wiping down my computer, and cleaning out my car. These simple practices just give me more mental clarity and less scatter-brain. 

Sleep.

I will forever refuse to pull an all-nighter to study. Preparing and utilizing designated study time and blocking off specific time to do so prevents the build up of stress, or the thoughts of “I should be studying” [see last point]. I do my best to  relax before bed and trust in my preparation for the upcoming exam. Sleeping 7-8 hours before an exam has proven to help students focus. Take melatonin and go to bed. 😀 I value hydration as well as proper nutrition and find them crucial in this time frame. Taking care of yourself overall is one of the best things you can do now and in the long run! 

Reward yourself.

Give yourself something to look forward to when you’re done. Get drinks, buy yourself something you can wear or read, or go on a small road trip! My best friend and I take a road trip to Fargo as soon as we finish our last finals for the last few semesters. It is so nice to get out of town and switch up the scenery. 

Designate time to study.

Allocating specific time to study (depending on how specific you want to get) has allowed me to eliminate that dreaded last-minute cramming. For example, one hour for chemistry, a half hour break for lunch, an hour and a half of creating a study guide, 1 hour at the gym… etc. The key is to be productive in that designated time. Remove distractions, fill up your coffee cup, and study! The most difficult aspect of this for me was getting the notion of “I need to be studying 24/7 to do well!!!” out of my head. The amount of time “studying” is simply not effective if it involves a lot of scrolling through social media (I speak from experience). One hour of focused studying is far better than two hours of distractions. 


Now relax, take a deep breath, and trust in your preparation to do well on all of your exams. Good luck, my friends!

xx,

M

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It is difficult in our country to decipher what different food labels mean or what they can cause you to think about food in general. Health claims on food tend to offer you enormous benefits that are not necessarily backed by science, nor do they necessarily provide you with the benefit they claim to give.

Afer having analyzed labels in a variety of nutrition courses over time, I have created a list of these terms and labels and what they really mean – in hopes for you to reference them – whether they’re good, and informative, or…not that way. 😀


 

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GLUTEN FREE: a food is only allowed this label if it contains 10 parts per million or less of gluten. This is often certified through the Gluten Free Intolerance Organization (GFIO) which is regulated with the USDA’s labeling standards. This label helps those with Celiac’s Disease spot “safe” foods, and others who are avoiding gluten by choice the same. Does gluten free mean “healthy?” Foods labeled “gluten free” are not necessarily healthier or more nutrient dense. There are plenty of cakes, cookies, pastries, crackers, and other processed foods now certified gluten free, offering those with an allergy or sensitivity, or Celiac Disease an option to enjoy their favorite foods too without gluten that causes them problems. If you see this label, you can safely assume is that there is NO GLUTEN in the product.

 

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KOSHER: Probably the least known and recognized, Kosher foods are those that are deemed pure according to the Jewish law. Click here for all the standards for meat, fish, and other foods (koshercertification.org). This symbol above shows Americans that the food product is suitable to consume if one is observing dietary Kosher laws.

 

all-natural-food-label

NATURAL: there isn’t a specific label that is associated with this nutrition claim simply because the term itself is misleading and ambiguous. The Food and Drug Administration, as well as the United States Department of Agriculture do not provide federal regulation as to what constitutes a “natural food.” This claim is misleading, vague, and cannot promise any benefits. Some food will be labeled as “natural” with other promised claims such as “no MSG, no preservatives, and no hydrogenated oil” which can be helpful to some, but remember, read the label, and that this claim is not regulated.

 

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NON-GMO: a product with this label means that it does not contain any genetically modified organism (GMOs). The certification is based on the Non-GMO Project whose “commitment is to preserve and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO sources.” If a food contains this label, you can be assured that your food has not been genetically modified. Beyond this, non-GMO food may or may not have other significant health benefits.

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ORGANIC: This label is regulated by the United States of Agriculture as clearly observed by the label. For a food product to earn this label, it has to be produced by approved methods: “cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that fosters cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.” Similar to the “gluten free” claim, you can be assured that food with this label IS organic, but does that necessarily translate to “healthy?” No. There simply isn’t enough research to conclude that products labeled as organic provide more benefits than those that are not.

 

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VEGETARIAN: vegetarian products in the United States are not regulated by the FDA or USDA. Therefore, independent organizations in our country have pridefully labeled their food as such – promising the absence of meat or meat products in their food items. If you purchase something with the vegetarian label (often a green symbol with a plant on it), chances are, that company takes great pride in their product and ensuring their product does not contain meat. Does vegetarian mean “healthy”? Something labeled “vegetarian” simply means the product does not contain meat. Though a plant-based diet does have plenty of benefits, there are plenty of other factors to consider when determining if a vegetarian product is deemed, “healthy” such as if the product saturated fat, sugar content, whole grains, and processed ingredients.

certified-vegan

VEGAN: Similar to vegetarian, this label isn’t regulated by a government branch, but it is regulated by private companies such as Vegan.org which promise that there is zero amount of animal product in compliance with vegan standards. Does vegan mean “healthy?” Again, as mentioned previously about vegetarian products, eating a plant-based diet has benefits backed by research, however, did you know Oreos are technically vegan (though they might be cross-contacted with milk in some countries) ? Oreos are made from high fructose corn syrup, and other food additives; so overall, just because something like an Oreo is vegan doesn’t necessarily mean it is “healthy.”


As with anything, it is important to be a well-informed consumer by reading labels thoroughly, and understanding what they mean. I hope that by reading this, you are able to make more educated decisions about choosing foods when shopping and what you choose to purchase!

As always, thank you for reading!

xx,

M

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Wherever I go, whenever I travel, whenever there’s a new place in town, I cannot wait to try it. Tell me that being a “foodie” hasn’t influenced my decision to study nutrition as an undergrad! My point here, is that as much as I love cooking and creating new recipes, I equally enjoy eating out and trying new dishes as well as revisiting my old favorites.

Food is the center of culture: in many communities/ethnic groups, and consequently, offering food or sharing a meal together shows that one is welcome in that community. Going to eat is often a social outing simply shared around good food. With this social benefit of going out to eat together, the concept of eating out often gets a bad rap – this is due to our food culture in the U.S., not you!

Why, though? Portions are often out of control, dishes are loaded with excessive calories, and the meal can get expensive pretty quickly. Keep reading to learn how to eat out with more intention and to hack the food system while enjoying good food and company!

***


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blood orange mimosa with brunch? ok.

1. Drinks?

Soda and other speciality drinks can be more than three dollars per drink which are high in sugar and extra calories before your meal even begins. The easiest solution?

Order a water.

Free drink, free refills, no calories, and helps your stomach and body prepare for the meal you’re about to enjoy! What if everyone is ordering drink, drinks though? I suggest ordering one and drinking it slowly to enjoy it and not spend more than you had initially planned on.

 


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packed salad without dressing!

2.  Salad?

Though salads usually are thought of as “the healthier alternative,” as you’re getting greens and vegetables in, you’d be surprised to see that at some restaurants, salads can be higher in calories and saturated fat than some burgers. What? How? The dressing is usually the culprit. Solution?

Ask for the dressing on the side.

You are then able to control the amount you want to put on your own salad and you’ll probably find yourself leaving some dressing behind. Restaurants often give WAY more than the recommended serving size alots for.


3. Not enough nutrients for you?

IMG_0186Noodles & Co small spicy korean beef noodles with shrimp instead of beef and added broccoli 🙂

Many restaurants are accommodating and want to help make your meal the best way you’d enjoy it; it’ll bring you back in! After long tennis practices followed by weight lifting in college, my teammates and I would go to Noodles and Company to refuel. Now, not only does Noodles provide minimally processed fast food with fresh ingredients, they are one of the many restaurants happy to help customize your dish. After tennis practice, I would order a pasta dish (hello post-workout carbs), and in addition to whatever vegetables came with that dish, I would add broccoli and sauteed peppers for a few cents more. That way, you get even more vegetables and consequently, more nutrients, from your meal. Mac and cheese sounds really good? Spaghetti with meatballs? Chicken alfredo as a treat? Add some vegetables!

You will get to enjoy your favorite dish, but also enjoy the benefits of getting more nutrients in one meal. Yay!


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get dessert and share it 😉

4. Portion size too big?

If you go to other countries, and I’m thinking of European countries specifically, you’ll note that portions sizes are much smaller than that of ours in the US. This portion size isn’t your fault. But there are two different things you can do about it.

One: Share your dishes.

When you have someone to split your dish with, you’re eating half the calories, half the fat, half the grossly portioned size the restaurant often doses out. This alone will decrease your chances of overeating and getting a stomach ache, and you will likely not regret your decision to eat out. If you order dessert, too, ALWAYS share. 🙂 The other option is…

Two: Get a to-go box when you get your food and put half in the box.

Boom, two meals for one price and immediate portion control. This will prevent you from overeating from the start and give you another meal for the next day. Two meals for one price! What’s better than that!


5. Sides?

Sure, a big burger is a treat for many to have as a “cheat meal” but what usually accompanies that? French fries, onion rings, you get it. If you want to opt to get some nutritional benefit from a meal like this,

Request a different side dish.

Swap french fries for steamed broccoli, onion rings for grilled vegetables, a cornbread muffin for corn on the cob. Most restaurants offer a variety of sides that you can pick from, only it’s up to you to make the change! Check out the menu of Famous Dave’s sides for example.


6. What comes on that?

As mentioned with dressing (see #2), restaurants tend to smother and load things on their meals such as mayo, cream-based sauces, barbeque sauces, alfredo sauces, mustards, ketchup, butter, or other unwanted or unnecessary additives. The solution?

Ask what comes on the meal you’re about to order.

The clears up any confusion, alerts you to any potential allergens, and gives you a heads-up as to what you’ll be consuming. If any of the ingredients listed are not something you want, as if you can skip that item, like the salad, ask for it on the side, or request a healthier alternative. This way, you are eliminating unnecessary cals or fats or sugars, and YOU are controlling how much you put on your meal.

*Bonus tip, my brother’s tip is to skip mayo and add avocado. You get the creaminess you desire [on a sandwich] without the processing, fat, and calories, and you get healthy (monounsaturated) fat from a plant source – woo!


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adding salmon to my favorite sesame salad at the North Dakota Museum of Art Cafe

7.  Protein source?

Grilled or crispy? Chicken, steak or pork? Broiled or fried fish?

We’re often faced with a lot of options when it comes to choosing a protein source; especially at restaurants. Solution?

Choosing a lean, grilled or broiled protein source.

Choosing grilled chicken, black or pinto beans, roasted turkey, dishes with lentils or peanuts (legumes), or those with nuts such as almonds, pecans, or walnuts give you the leanest, and minimally processed protein sources. Avoid fried foods. Though they are better than nothing, they offer minimal nutritional benefits and pose potential health risks if consumed all too frequently.


8. What’s fresh?

Restaurants are often proud to disclose what they have on-hand. Some restaurants have partnerships with other local companies and will disclose where they get their honey, eggs, chicken, and produce from. If you’re looking for a healthier option when you go out to eat, eating at local, independently-owned restaurants are more than likely going to offer you higher quality ingredients and more flavor in your food.


Now, if you are enjoying a meal that’s a treat or going out is a treat for you, don’t feel guilty about your food choices. If you go to a specific restaurant a few times a year and go there specifically for their homemade baked mac & cheese with breadcrumbs (my weakness) and Moscow mules, don’t make food swaps. Enjoy your meal. What you can do is also get a water to drink with your favorite cocktail, and bring half of your mac & cheese home so you don’t eat too much, and you have more to eat later. Never follow a “diet” that deprives you from indulging every once in a while. Eating your favorite foods (though they might not fit into your every day “diet”) is good for the soul – trust me! As long as we aren’t eating this way all the time.

With that, I thank you for reading and I hope this helps when you choose to eat out at your favorite restaurants, trying new ones, and when you travel!

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xx,

M