Taking a Nutrition class earlier this year opened my eyes to what our society says is socially acceptable versus what we should be doing to take better care of our bodies. Our culture teaches us to believe that “bigger” is “better” and larger portion sizes are more “satisfying.” The reality is, too much of anything can be harmful.
A good diet is balanced, varied and consistent. Additionally, calories are not all bad. There are good calories and bad calories. Good calories come from whole foods that contain the nutrients necessary for our bodies functioning. In contrast, bad calories are responsible for the extra weight we accumulate around our belly area, the kind that sits above our hips (“muffin tops”) and eventually leads to Diabetes Type II and Heart Disease.
As a regular customer who enjoys going to T.G.I. Friday’s for a quick bite and inexpensive happy hour, I’ve become well acquainted with the bartenders and their menu. Below are a couple of healthy lunch recommendations T.G.I. Friday’s serves. In addition to the high levels of nutrients contained in these foods, they are delicious.
The Big Mex Burger
Loaded with black beans, lettuce, pepper, diced tomatoes, corn pico de gallo and topped with spicy chipotle dressing. Get everything on this burger except for cheese. Although cheese is an excellent source of calcium, this only holds true when it’s consumed in its most natural form. When melted, cheese loses the nutrients you were meant to receive. Additionally, beans are a “super” food and excellent source of iron and protein. Make sure to ask for a whole wheat bun.
People often have this misconception that hamburgers are bad for your health. The burger in itself isn’t bad. Ground beef is a good source of protein. However, the condiments you choose to “dress” your burger with can significantly impact your calorie consumption.
Sweet Potato over White Potato
Substitute standard potato fries with sweet potato fries. White potato contains higher levels of starch and will raise your blood pressure. Sweet potato is a good source of potassium and has the opposite effect by working to lower your blood pressure, which is significant in fighting heart disease.
Go Green with a Salad
T.G.I. Friday’s offers a wide selection of salads. I recommend the southwest wedge salad for its flavor and portion size. I have never been much of a salad lover so I tend to stick to small salads in general. The quarter wedge lettuce comes with black beans, diced tomatoes, corn, pico de gallo and topped with guacamole, spicy chipotle dressing and cilantro. It’s, small, delicious and packed with essential nutrients.
Skip the Soda and Go for Water
The average American consumes more soft drinks than water. Most people drink anything but water when they go to restaurants. Go to T.G.I Friday’s and take a count of how many people choose soda or an alcoholic beverage over water. I can guarantee you the numbers will be high. Artificially flavored juices and sodas are high in fructose have virtually no nutritional value. I like to call them “empty” drinks. They lack the nutrients our bodies need to function. Processed sugars do more harm than good to our health. The consumption of such sugars has contributed to the rise in Diabetes Type II and Heart Disease. Next time you’re at T.G.I. Friday’s, skip the soda and go for water. If you want flavor, have them add a slice of lemon.