by Babs ‘O’ Reilly
(Miami Beach, Florida, USA)
Eating out is fun. You get to try new foods and socialize with family and friends. Often, eating out blows your diet plans, but it doesn’t have to. Plan ahead and know how to enjoy a healthy restaurant meal.
Know the Restaurant Menu
Many restaurants have good healthy choices for diet meals. They are often marked on the menu, but may take a little detective work.
When in doubt, call ahead and ask the chef for recommendations.
Have a Healthy Snack Before Dinner
Eat a piece of fruit or some vegetables before going to the restaurant. You won’t be as hungry. You will be less tempted by the more fattening foods on the menu and better able to control your eating.
Don’t Drink Your Calories
Order water or unsweetened tea with your meal and skip the sugar filled offerings. Be careful with alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is an appetite stimulant and reduces your resistance to overeating.
At 200 calories an ounce, alcohol can derail your diet quickly. If you are out for drinks with friends and feel you must drink, limit yourself to one.
Split the Meal
Most restaurant portions are too large. Plan to share a meal or eat half and save the remainder for another meal the next day. Eat your portion slowly, savoring every bite. Participate in the conversation.
Enjoy the Soup and Salad Bar
Fill up on soup and salad, but be careful. Ask for your dressing on the side so that you can control how much you eat.
The salad dressing is often loaded with fat and sugar. Choose clear soups with plenty of vegetables. Cream soups may be high in calories.
At a buffet, enjoy the fruit and salad bar before cruising the rest of the offerings. You won’t be as tempted by the higher fat choices.
Choose one meat or fish entree and healthy side dishes. You don’t have to sample everything in one sitting.
Avoid the Fried and Creamy Options
Dishes with “fried” or “creamy” in the name or description are usually high in fat. Choose tomato based pasta sauces over cheesy alfredos and cream sauces.
Order your entree and side dishes grilled, broiled, baked, boiled or steamed. Remove visible fat and leave off the butter, sour cream and mayonnaise.
Wait for Dessert
Give your meal time to digest a little and send the “full” signal to your brain before ordering dessert. If you still want dessert, consider splitting it with a friend or ordering a healthy sorbet, fruit or yogurt dish.
Restaurant desserts are usually loaded with calories and fat, so tread lightly here.
Navigating the restaurant menu takes some research and experience. Prepare in advance and follow these tips to keep your meal healthy while enjoying a meal out.