Even the best-laid plans can get derailed when it comes to dining out. How do you know what is in your food, how it’s prepared, and how to make a restaurant meal fit into your plan? Never fear – the dining out guide is here!
Follow these tips for the healthiest and enjoyable dining experience possible:
1. Go online and read the menu of the restaurant you are thinking of patronizing. See if they have any healthy or dieter’s options listed. If it is not clear what they have in the healthy department, call ahead of time and ask so you can decide whether or not this is a place you want to visit.
2. Request that your server not bring bread and butter - or tortilla chips and salsa – to the table, or to bring it with your entrees. Most people eat too much bread or to many chips before their meal, then even though they’re no longer hungry, still eat the meal they ordered afterwards. This ends up being way to many calories in one sitting!
3. When ordering your food, ask for any sauces, condiments, and dressings to come on the side. That way you have control of how much gets put onto your food, not the chef.
4. Request that your meal be prepared with little or no oil, butter, or added salt whenever possible.
5. Leave off the cheese on salads, appetizers, and entrees to save tons of fat and calories!
6. Ask to have your entrée broiled, baked or grilled instead of fried, pan fried, or sautéed. This will reduce the fat and salt calories added to your food during preparation.
7. Soup is a great appetizer. Order a cup instead of a bowl, and opt for tomato, chicken or vegetable stock soups instead of cream or cheese based ones.
8. Substitute a high-calorie starchy side with a dinner salad or a vegetable. Usually restaurants will do this free or for a small upcharge. And remember to ask for the dressing on the side!
9. If you’re having a beer, glass of wine or cocktail, skip the starch in your meal and ask for steamed vegetables or a side salad instead to balance out your calories.
10. If you’re dining at a place that gives you huge portions, ask up front for a to-go box and immediately put half of your entrée in there. If it’s not on your plate, you’re less likely to eat it. Plus you now have a great lunch for tomorrow!
11. If you’re having a desert, go for lower calorie options such as sorbet or fruit. If you can’t resist the lure of chocolate or cheesecake, share that dessert with the whole table.
12. Remember: The restaurant wants to please you so you come back again, so if your food does not come out as you ordered it, then send it back. Don’t ‘settle’ for what you’ve been given if it’s not right. You’re paying for it, you’re going to be eating it, and it should be done as you’ve ordered it. Send it back – nicely and politely - and have it remade to your specifications.