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Health and Fitness News

Restaurant Ready

When you’re heading to your favorite restaurant, you better know how to stick to your diet.

Whether eating out is an everyday occurrence or a once-a-month kind of treat, it’s an easy pitfall for people trying to lose weight. Since people eat at restaurants more frequently today than ever before, it’s likely that eating out is a contributing factor to weight gain. Depending on where you go, eating out can be convenient, affordable, and fun. So what’s the problem?

Unfortunately, much of what you can order at restaurants is high in calories, sodium, and unhealthy fats. Also, the portions are often much greater than your stomach should hold. As a result, a regular diet of fast food or too much food sets you on the path to weight gain and disease.

The good news is that it’s possible to stick to your diet when eating out. Wise menu choices and portion control are the keys. When it comes to appetizers, salads, soups, main dishes, desserts, and drinks, here are helpful tips for staying on track.

Appetizers

The first question to ask yourself as you sit down to a meal is, “Do I really need an appetizer or can I wait until my salad or main dish?” Most appetizer choices are ridiculously high in calories. If you can’t wait for your main course, choose an appetizer that’s not fried or breaded or that doesn’t come with dips and sauces. Your options will be greatly limited.

Soup or Salad

Eating a small salad or cup of soup before your main dish may help you from overindulging. Just be picky about which salad or soup you order. Look for a salad that’s made mostly with vegetables. Toppings like cheese, nuts, fried onions, or croutons add up calories fast. Choose a vinaigrette dressing or one that’s made with oil and vinegar rather than being cream-based, and ask for the dressing on the side so you can limit how much you use.

Maybe you’re in the mood for soup instead. Order a soup that contains vegetables and is broth-based instead of cream-based.

Main Dish

The majority of your meal’s calories will likely come from your main dish, so be selective as you consider what to order from the menu. Many restaurants label their low-calorie options. Choose dishes that are baked, grilled, broiled, boiled, or roasted rather than fried. Avoid foods prepared with cream-based sauces, butter, or mayonnaise. It’s also a good idea to opt for a baked potato instead of French fries and enjoy steamed vegetables rather than a vegetable casserole.

Because restaurant portion sizes are often double the recommended portion sizes, don’t expect to clear your plate. Split an entre with a friend or ask for a to-go box upfront, cut your meal in half as soon as you receive it, and enjoy your leftovers for lunch the next day.

Dessert

Dieting doesn’t have to mean complete deprivation. You can still enjoy sweets in moderation. Before ordering a dessert, make sure you’re still hungry. In the event you’ve got room left, consider splitting a dessert with a friend or sucking on an after-dinner mint if you want to end your meal on a sweet note. Low calorie dessert options include fruit, sorbet, or frozen yogurt.

Drinks

Don’t forget about liquid calories, which add up fast and do little to fill you up. Say no to soda, lemonade, milk shakes, and sweet tea and choose water or unsweetened tea to drink. Alcoholic beverages are also high in calories, so limit yourself to one drink a day if you’re a woman and two drinks a day if you’re a man.