Tips for Dining Out

It’s a lot easier to control what you are going to eat in a restaurant than at someone else’s dinner table.  At a restaurant, you pay, so you can say.  But as a guest, it’s different.  If it’s a casual meal with close friends, you can discuss what you can and can’t eat – and even BYOF: bring your own food.  If it’s a social or business affair, it’s harder but it’s up to you to be proactive.   Start by planning your meals the day before, the day of the function, and the day after to be a little lower in calories.   Increase your exercise time the day before, the day of, and the day after.  Tell your host or hostess that you’re working hard to stay on a special diet and eat small portions of anything that is taboo.  Then relax and enjoy the occasion – you aren’t going to sink your ship with one meal!

Plan Ahead:

  • Follow the meal and exercise strategy suggested above.
  • Increase your water consumption that day and during the meal, drink plenty of water.
  • Don’t arrive at a restaurant ravenously hungry.  If you eat an allowed snack or a salad before you go, you’ll be able to make your choices with your mind rather than your stomach.
  • Look for foods that are grilled, broiled, baked, steamed, stir-fried or roasted.  If fresh fish is on the menu, prepared in one of these ways, take advantage of it.  You need a minimum of two servings a week.
  • Avoid foods that are fried, have caloric sauces, or extra-large portions.  Words to look out for are: fried, double-cut (lamb, veal and pork chops with meat on both sides of the bone), buttered, breaded (escalloped), creamed, creamy, Hollandaise, Béarnaise, Alfredo, Carbonara, Au Gratin.  Some vegetable sauces have cream or butter in them: always ask.
  • Look for low-fat or fat-free dressings.  Order sauces and “dressings on the side.”  If a sauce or dressing is really flavorful, you can dip the tines of your fork into it, then pick up a piece of meat or lettuce, and you will get enough of the taste.
  • Pass up both the bread and the butter – unless it’s whole-grain bread and olive oil instead of butter.  Even then, remember to count calories.
  • Discretely remove any skin or fat from poultry or meat.
  • Consider having two Appetizers or an Appetizer and a Soup or Salad instead of an Appetizer and a whole Entrée.
  • Split an Entrée between two persons, or divide your plate in half and take half home in a “doggie bag.”  Order the Vegetable Plate; even high-ticket restaurants have them.
  • Alcohol and dessert are extra calories.  Sometimes a glass of wine or a fruit dessert can fit into your calorie allotment.  Sometimes you need a cookie to keep you diligent about your diet.
  • Prioritize.

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