I recently had a lunch meeting at a local steak house in the financial district of Toronto and found myself looking at the menu with a bit of a giant question mark… what the hell am I supposed to order off of this unhealthy cluster of manly meat driven dishes?

As I read through the menu, I tried to find something that was remotely healthy, balanced with enough protein carbs and fats, and within my desired caloric intake. And let me tell you, options were limited. I’m going to start this off with an apology to all servers out there, because today, I was that girl. Asking a million questions about this, trying to substitute that, comparing one dish to another, asking the portion size, where the meat comes from and the list goes on.

This got me thinking... Majority of people want to eat healthy, but have a limited understanding of what that truly means. And I bet that most people don’t know what types of questions to ask in a restaurant that will help guide them towards a healthy dish. Just because there’s a little green leaf or a nicely etched “GF” beside the dish does not mean that’s the right choice or healthiest option by any means.

So here it is, my list of things to look for and avoid (or remove if possible) to make a not so healthy dish, a decent one.

1.     Words like “caramelized” or “candied” – All this says is SUGAR SUAGR SUGAR.

2.     The word “caesar” – I feel like this is common knowledge, but caesar dressing/salad is a hard no.

3.     The word “crispy or crunchy chicken” – This almost got me today. I accidentally missed the word crispy and almost ordered this salad.  If you see “crispy chicken” just think KFC because that shit will be deep fried AF.

4.     The word “glaze” – More often than not, glazed is just another fancy word for sugar. Watch out for the maple glazed salmon for example.

5.     Dressings – If you read maple, teriyaki, or creamy, see if you can swap that out for a more calorie friendly option.

You spotted something you think is a fancy word for unhealthy. So now what? Simply have that item removed, or ask if they can substitute it for something else. Maybe add extra veggies and skip the creamy mashed potatoes (painful I know), or have the item cooked with no butter or oil so it’s not soaked in fat on your plate. Get your dressing on the side and ask if it’s possible for just oil and vinegar. Your server may hate you, but you gotta do what’s right for you!