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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tips for Eating Out

tips for eating out on a dietHello and Happy Tuesday! I thought today I'd do a post on tips for eating out when you are trying to eat healthy or low calorie. I was inspired by an article on this topic that I found online. The article goes through seven tips of which the following three are my personal favorites:

(1) Order before everyone else: I love this tip! I can't begin to tell you how many times I've been influenced by what my friends or family order. If they all order a salad then I will add a salad even if I haven't intended on having one. Also, if they are all splurging, I tend to use that as rationale that I should splurge as well. So, I like this idea -- if I order first, then I won't be tempted to switch my order up because of everyone else (and it goes without saying -- this means you can't ask everyone what they are getting before you order).

(2) Get dressing and sauce on the side: I love doing this because it allows me to enjoy my higher calorie dressings or sauces without eating tons of calories. Many people don't realize this, but salad dressing are often packed with calories and fat. The creamy ones can be more than 200 calories per ounce! To avoid eating all these calories for very little gratification, I developed a system where I dip my fork ever so slightly in my side of dressing or sauce, and then I wipe a small portion of dressing on the piece of food that I'm going to eat. I actually find that it adds just the right amount of flavor, vs. when my food is coated in heavy dressing.

(3) Get rid of the food you don't want to eat: I often decide ahead of time that I will only eat half of an entree. But then, when it is sitting on the plate staring at me, I can't help but start picking at it, and then you know what happens. So, a smart approach is to actually remove the food from your plate before you begin eating your portion. You can ask for a to-go box from the get-go, or if that is inconvenient, you can instead move it over to your bread plate or to a friend's plate.

I also have a couple of my own tips:

(1) Find some meals that work for you at some select restaurants: Once you establish a few favorite menu items at some select restaurants, you can suggest going to these restaurants to your friends or family. This way you avoid restaurants where you are uncomfortable with the menu items, and you can relax knowing exactly what you are going to order, allowing you to have much more fun. A few of my favorites: Amici's pizza without cheese or with light feta cheese, the Waldorf Salad (both dressings on the side) at California Pizza Kitchen, & Thai Lettuce wraps at Cheesecake factory.

(2) Substitute Salad or Steamed Vegetables for Fries: This is done best when it is in combination with my dressing tip above. :) Generally speaking, restaurants are really open to substituting salad or steamed veggies instead of fries. If you order the dressing for the salad on the side, or even if you order dressing to dip your fork in when eating your vegetables (including a potato which you can eat plain with just some dressing on the side), then you end up with a much healthier, lower calorie meal that is still quite tasty.

I hope you enjoy these tips. I'd love to hear your tips as well!


Photo by Jonathan_W


Balance, Joy and Delicias! said...

Useful tips to always have in mind.
I would add another one: if you want some dessert, share with a friend!

Anonymous said...

Good tips that we often need to be reminded about. I often order veggies in place of fries and feel very empowered for doing so!

Suddenly slimmer said...

As a person who often eating out, your tips are surely useful.

lauren said...

these are great tips. Eating out is usually where I mess things up!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes restaurants have websites that list the menu, sometimes even with nutrition facts too.
You could look it up beforehand and plan what you want to get, no surprises. :)

Anonymous said...

These are great!

Anonymous said...

1) side salads: instead of salad dressings (even if its on the side you never know what the calorie counts are)...i just squeeze some lemon juice and add some salt and pepper

2) I always ask what is in the entree/sandwich/burger so i can tell them to skip the mayo/butter/bacon etc...

3) try to get the waiter/waitress to come over to your side so that you can order quietly and discreetly! it's sometimes embarassing when you order with "no this, no that, change this, change that" and all your friends can hear it and roll their eyes

4) go to a place with refillable drinks and sip diet soda with lemon all throughout the meal. It makes you full faster and also acts as a pseudo-dessert since it is sweet

5) ask your friends which restaurant they are thinking of...check their menu and nutrition stats ahead of time..decide on your entree accordingly...or try to persuade your friends to go to a place you know have lighter choices

6) think about all the caloric meals our friends are ingesting and feel good that you know what you've eaten and what you're doing...

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