Dining Out In A Healthy Way

Do you love to eat out or dine out with your family and friends? How do you manage to keep up in eating healthy and keeping your weight?

With our busy lives these days we are more apt to dine out, pick up takeout food, or have food delivered to us.

The problem is we are not aware of the calories and fat we are consuming when we continually eat food other than what we, ourselves have prepared.

The average dinner meal at a restaurant is 1200 calories, and 60 grams of fat. Men should not have more than 70 grams of fat a day, and women 40 grams of fat a day.

One meal alone can make up one whole day’s worth of fat, or two, in the case of women’s diets.

If you do find a meal that is low in fat, make sure you do not consume such a large serving that you eat more calories than you should.

There are restaurants out there that do have meals considered lower in fat and calories. If you do not see it on the menu ask your server for the information.

Remember, low carb is not low-fat. When you are eating a low –carb meal out at a restaurant you are usually eating high-fat. Make sure you do not take in more than 20 grams of fat in a meal.

Do you consistently starve yourself until you get to the restaurant, and then order everything on the menu to fill the hunger gap?

If you are serious about watching your weight there are things you can do to be a more ‘informed diner’ so you make the right decisions on what food to eat when you dine out.

Italian Restaurants

  • Skip the bread basket. At the very least, don’t have it sitting in front of you for the whole meal.
  • Split the pasta dishes. Portions are normally large enough for two.
  • Choose soup for a meal, like Minestrone.
  • Avoid fattening dishes like fried Mozzarella sticks, Lasagna, thick creamy Alfredo pasta dishes
  • Avoid anything called ‘parmigiana’ as it is usually fried and layered with cheese.

However, you will also find many healthy dishes to make your mouth water as well. Thin crust pizza with vegetable toppings, pasta with tomato-based sauces, chicken cacciatore, chicken Marsala, and biscotti are a few items that will keep you at the Italian table without having to give up your commitment to cut calories and watch fat intake. Salads and soup choices are also something to consider.


Chinese Restaurants

Watch the oil and avoid anything deep-fried.

  • Remember most of the calories are hidden in the sauces.
  • Say “no” to egg rolls – they are filled with fat.
  • Avoid dishes with eggplant in them – they soak up the oil like a sponge.
  • Avoid fried wontons, dishes made with duck, egg foo yung
  • Fried chicken should not be ordered if you’re trying to eat healthy
  • Choose brown rice over white. Don’t mistake fried rice for brown rice.
  • The all-you-can-eat buffet should be avoided at all costs (regardless of what type of food).
  • Fortune cookies are okay to eat – they only have about 30 calories.

Chinese (and Asian food generally) offers a wide variety of broth-based soups, stir-fried treats, steamed fish and vegetable dishes, rice, chow mien, and other menu items that delicious low-calorie and low fat choices.

Mexican Restaurants

  • Skip the chips/nachos.
  • Substitute salsa for other toppings such as cheese, guacamole, and sour cream.
  • Avoid quesadillas and enchiladas that are filled with cheese. Tamales are filled with fat.
  • Try to only eat half a burrito – save the rest for later.
  • Taco salads are a good option – just don’t eat the shell. The shell doubles the calories.
  • Fajitas are a good option. Load them up with veggies and salsa, skip the sour cream.


Indian Restaurants

If you are lucky enough to have a good quality restaurant with Indian Cuisine, you have a number of delicious healthy, low-fat options to choose from.

Chicken, fish, veggies, steamed rice, legumes are included in healthy dishes throughout the menu.

Bean soups are delicious and healthy. You can opt for Chapati, Chicken or Shrimp Vindaloo, or Lamb kabobs.

The main dishes to exclude when dining out in the Indian Restaurants are the fried bread, dishes served with large amounts of nuts and dishes made with coconut milk.

Overall, Indian cuisine is a wonderful dining option when you are watching what you eat.

Most of you eat at restaurants for a variety of reasons. Time and convenience are the most common motives. Below is a list of more quick tips for eating out of your home.

If you eat healthy food or sensible portions, that you like, you can stick with eating healthy for life.

Your portions should be spaced out over the course of the day. Water should be a part of every meal.

After you eat, your stomach should be half full, or less, with food. For every two parts of food consumed, you should drink one part water. Leave your stomach at least one quarter empty for movement of air.

When eating at a restaurant, eat half a portion, maximum, and wait five or ten minutes. Restaurant portions are commonly two to four meals on a single or double plate.

This is way too much to consume at a single sitting and you may find out that, once you pause and sip your drink, you are already full.

Do not make comparisons to other people. Eat to live and enjoy your food, but do not use someone else’s over indulgence as an excuse for your own.

Establish control over your appetite. Many feel guilty if they don’t finish a plate. This is usually conditioning from your childhood. Bury your guilty past and have the rest “wrapped to go.”

Always eat something for breakfast and never “skip it.” When you skip breakfast, you will over-consume for it, later in the day.

Eat slowly and thoroughly chew your food.

Make sure your last meal, or last “snack” of the day, is small and nutritionally dense. Examples are cereal with fruit, vegetable salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, rice with vegetables, and light popcorn, without the extra butter and salt.

For those who eat meat or fish, turkey, chicken, or salmon salad on top of fresh greens.

In the later part of your day, skip desserts, sugary cereals, bread, and second portions.

If you absolutely must have sugar, eat fruit, strawberries with yogurt or low fat cottage cheese, fruit with rice, or almonds with yogurt.

If you must have coffee or alcohol, beware that these should be consumed in extreme moderation.

Both substances will dehydrate your body, and you will have to drink extra water to make up for it.

Wine is much better than hard alcohol, but one or two glasses a day is the limit.

Perhaps, you believe there is “nothing more dangerous than showing up at a restaurant really hungry.”

Being an informed diner can save you hundreds of calories in just one meal.

To buffer the hunger, be sure to snack before you go out.

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Dining Out Guide for the Health Conscious Eater

Here’s food for thought! Did you know the average restaurant meal has over 1,000 calories? That’s enough to blow any healthy eating plan.

Fortunately, by following a few simple guidelines, you can dine out without having to sacrifice good taste and nutrition.

Check these 10 tips to help you.

1. Do your research on local restaurants that offer healthy alternatives

Whether you are in unfamiliar place, check out healthy options within the area. Make an extra effort to feed your body with healthy food even in another location.

You can always ask at the front desk for assistance. Don’t go for what is convenient and readily available.

2. Eat in restaurants wisely

Choose the restaurant carefully when you dine out. There are restaurants that will normally serve healthier meal than the others such as Thai or Mediterranean restaurants.

Be mindful of the food you order like grilled meats rather than fried. If there are healthy vegetables in the starters or side dish then go for it.

Skip the bread, the starch, and the dessert. Eat in small portion and eat them slowly. Then, wash it with water instead of soda.

3. When eating out, choose the healthiest meals

Learn the art of choosing healthier meal options. It can also help if you share meals with the people you are with if it is an informal gathering.

Learn how to dine out the smart way.

First, skip the bread basket. Bread is dense in carbs and calories.

Next, look for entrees that feature grilled fish or chicken and have steamed vegetables on the side.

Also, avoid sauces made from butter or cream. Ignore the deep-fried foods.

Split the entrée if the portion sizes are out of control. Box up half of your meal before you dig in.

4. Be careful when eating on fast food chains.

You may find yourself frequently going to fast food chains on a regular basis if you are in your workplace.

In most cases, the types of foods that are served in these outlets are usually filled with fats and oils. In addition, they are also highly processed.

On the other hand, on several occasions, indulge in fast food in a healthy way. For example, order on the kids’ menu for a smaller portion and sometimes they have healthier side options.

Do not upsize your order and always avoid sodas. Look for grilled options and those packed with lettuce, tomatoes, and low-fat condiments.

5. Avoid ordering an appetizer.

It’s a little-known fact that some appetizers have more calories and fat than the main course.

Plus, many appetizers are fried and served with heavy sauces which will add to your intake of saturated fat as well as trans-fats and calories. It’s not a healthy way to start your meal.

6. Say “yes” to salad.

Salad is a healthy eater’s best friend. Not only will it fill you up so you’ll consume fewer calories overall, but it will also give you a hefty dose of antioxidants which are heart healthy.

Be sure to ask your waitress to hold the croutons and cheese which will further reduce your caloric load.

Also, choose your dressing wisely. Avoid cream based dressings and go for the vinegar based ones.

You also have the option of using vinegar and olive oil which is heart healthy.

7. Make the right entree selection.

Go for broiled and grilled rather than fried. Not only will you save calories and fat grams, you’ll also avoid trans-fats which are so prevalent in fried foods.

Instead, consider asking for a doubles order of vegetables with your entree. Very few Americans are getting the 7-9 servings of fruits and vegetables recommended for optimal health.

Plus, by avoiding the starch, you’ll be reducing your caloric and carbohydrate load.

Also, stick to tomato based sauces rather than cream based and you’ll enjoy a considerable calorie saving.

Lastly, ask for the sauce to be served in a separate dish on the side so you can control the amount you eat.

8. Think about what you’re drinking with your meal.

By not ordering an alcoholic beverage, you’ve saved yourself a considerable number of calories.

Try sipping iced tea sweetened with a non-caloric sweetener, a diet soft drink, or water with lemon.

You’ll be glad you did when you consider the calorie savings.

9. Indulge your sweet tooth wisely.

Many of the chain restaurants now offer a low fat or low carbohydrate dessert selection such as a low carb cheesecake.

These are wise choices for the health conscious eater and still allow you to end the meal on a sweet note.

If a healthy dessert option isn’t available, try a cup of coffee with skim milk to help satiate your desire for something sweet.

10. Learn to control your portions.

Many restaurants are serving larger quantities of food than in the past. If this is the case, put aside a portion of your entree at the beginning of the meal to take home with you.

If you remove it from your plate before you start eating, you’ll be less tempted to overindulge.

You use food as an important part of your cultural and social lives to connect with one another.

You also use it as a comfort when you have had a bad day, a bad week, a bad month, or a bad year.

Reducing the foods you do not need helps you stay healthy in mind and body.

By following these steps, you can make your dining experiences not only healthy, but enjoyable. Your heart will thank you!

It’s important to remember that while you are watching you’re weight, you don’t have to exclude yourself from all of the great food available in quality restaurants.

You simply need to pay attention to what you are eating and remember that moderation goes along way.



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