Some people dine out several times a week, and some enjoy restaurants only on certain occasions. Either way, eating out often feels like a special treat, so diners tend to overindulge with over-sized, calorie-laden meals. Research has shown that people tend to eat healthier when they prepare their own meals at home, but there are some ways that you can make smart choices when dining out at a restaurant. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Portion control is critical. A typical restaurant entr?e usually is large enough to count as two (or even three) "normal" servings. Combined with drinks, appetizers, and possibly dessert, it is easy to consume the equivalent of a full day's calories (or more) in one sitting. When considering what to order, nutrition experts say, plan to bring at least half of your meal home with you. To avoid the temptation to clean your plate, ask your server to bring a carryout container with your order and pack away a portion of it right away.
2. If you are counting calories, do not waste them on beverages. Water is the healthiest drink you can order. If plain water does not appeal to you, try requesting seltzer or sparkling water with lemon or lime.
3. When choosing your main dish, skip those that are fried or cooked in a lot of oil or butter. Healthier cooking methods for meat, fish, and poultry include grilling, baking, searing, and saut?ing. If possible, choose items cooked in olive oil, a "heart healthy" fat, rather than butter.
4. If you order pasta or other dishes with sauce, avoid cream sauces in favor of lighter ones. Think red or clear instead of white.
5. Steamed vegetables, a plain baked potato or sweet potato instead of mashed potatoes or french fries, and rice are healthier side dish options. Choose a light dressing with your salad, or ask for it on the side.
6. Yes, you can have dessert! Consider some lighter options such as fruit or sorbet, or split a high calorie dessert with your dining companion(s). A few small bites may be enough to satisfy your sweet tooth without sabotaging your healthy eating plan.
7. Look closely at the menu, and do not be afraid to ask your server to recommend healthy options.
The most important tip is to try to eat healthy while not depriving yourself completely. Be mindful of the types of foods you order, and try to avoid overeating. However, forbidding yourself from eating anything "bad" will only backfire in the end, so go ahead and indulge in a treat once in a while.
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SEVEN TIPS FOR EATING HEALTHY WHEN DINING OUT
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