Dine out without straying from your healthy habits
For some people, eating out is an occasional indulgence. For others, it's a way of life. Either way, moderate portions and careful choices can help make restaurant meals fit into an overall healthy-eating plan. Follow these tips to eat your best even when dining out.
Keep hunger under control:
l Don't skip a meal on the day you're going out to eat.
l Have a light, nutritious snack - such as a piece of fruit or a glass of fat-free milk - an hour before your meal to avoid eating too much at the restaurant.
Choose restaurants that offer variety:
l Choose a restaurant that offers a wide selection of foods and fresh, low-fat options.
l Call the restaurant ahead of time to ask about healthy menu items. Or go online to check its website to see if nutrition information is posted.
Order more plant-based food:
l Try an exotic fruit for variety - kiwi or papaya, for example.
l Order your favorite vegetables, but don't smother them in rich, high-fat dressings or cream sauces.
l Order items that include whole-grain foods to get your fiber.
Control portion size:
l Leave food on your plate.
l If you're tempted to clean your plate, ask your server to remove it.
l Finish half your plate and ask for a carryout bag - you'll end up with two meals for the price of one.
Savor a salad:
l Start your meal with a salad packed with vegetables to help you feel satisfied sooner.
l Ask for dressing on the side and use a small amount of it.
Share a main dish:
l Divide a main entree between family and friends.
l Ask for small plates for everyone at the table.
Select from the sides:
l Order a side dish or an appetizer-sized portion instead of a regular entree. They're usually served on smaller plates and in smaller amounts.
Pack your snack:
l Pack fruit, sliced vegetables, low-fat string cheese, or unsalted nuts to eat during road trips or long commutes. No need to stop for other food when these snacks are ready-to-eat.
Compare the calories, fat, and sodium:
l Many menus now include nutrition information. Look for items that are lower in calories, saturated fat, and sodium. Check with your server if you don't see them on the menu.
Pass on the buffet:
l Have an item from the menu and avoid the "all-you-can-eat" buffet. Steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes have fewer calories than foods that are fried in oil or cooked in butter.
Get your whole grains:
Request 100% whole-wheat breads, rolls, and pasta when choosing sandwiches, burgers, or main dishes.
l Order baked or broiled. Avoid fried.
l Ask for smaller portions of fatty foods - such as meats and fatty sauces - or ask for substitutions.
Mind your manners - it'll help you cut calories:
l Eat slowly for better digestion. You'll feel full before overeating.
l Don't gulp your food; chew thoroughly.
l Order food that requires work and slows down your eating, such as crab legs.
l Share your meal with a companion.
Order beverages with few or no calories:
l Order water or sparkling water with a twist of lemon - it's healthy, filling and has no calories.
l For a hot drink, try black decaf coffee or hot tea, minus sugar and other extras.
Think before ordering dessert:
l Finish the main dish. By the time you're done, you may not want dessert.
l If you do order dessert, split it with a friend or take half of it home.