31 March 2009

It’s important to keep your guard up when dining out. Here are three tips that will help you cut out some of the most glaring diet offenders

1. Keep it simple
The simpler your order is, the less likely it is to harbor hidden fats and calories. A “plain jane” order of grilled, roasted, steamed, poached or broiled protein (fish, seafood, skinless poultry, lean meat or tofu) with a side salad or steamed veggies and a plain baked potato is the way to go if you’re aiming to keep your calories in check, particularly if you eat out several times a week.

Be selective about where on your plate you’re going to splurge, and try your best to cut back on the rest of the meal. If you love mashed potatoes with gravy, consider rounding out the meal with an order of grilled fish or chicken and a side of veggies to keep total calories down. Make some calorie-conscious choices to offset your treats.

2. Make special requests
If you’re watching your waistline, you’ll likely need to tweak certain menu items to make them fit within your calorie budget.
  • Beware of buttered bread. Buttering toasted bread and buns for sandwiches, melts and burgers is the default preparation style in many restaurants. You can save yourself 100 calories or more by asking your server to make sure your bread is served dry, without added butter or oil.
  • Swap out your sides. Starchy sides with added fat like mashed potatoes, loaded rice and pasta, french fries and breaded onion rings add a lot of calories to your plate. Order a favorite food, but swap out the starchy side for vegetables. Steamed veggies without added butter or oil are best, but even veggies sautéed in oil have high-calorie starches and fried sides beat by a mile.
  • Control your own condiments. Most kitchen staffers have a heavy hand when it comes to adding sauces, salad dressings and condiments like mayo and ketchup to your plate. Instead of asking your server to go “light” on the toppings and condiments, ask for everything on the side. Then you’re in total control of how much gets added. Use 1-2 teaspoons of mayo on your sandwich instead of gobs, or 1-2 tablespoons of dressing on your greens instead of ladlefuls.
3. Eliminate the extras
You may not realized those food, whether it’s an appetite, main course or even desert can give you extra calorie.
  • The pre-meal, bread basket. You can have bread and butter any day of the week, so why waste precious calories on this everyday staple? You can easily chomp through 500 calories of refined starch, by mindlessly munching on biscuits, breadsticks or tortilla chips while wait your main course come. To prevent it, ask your waiter not to bring the basket to the table in the first place.
  • Don’t drink your calories. Regular sodas, shakes and fruity cocktails can give extra calorie when you’re eating at a restaurant. It’s easy to down your first drink while waiting for your food to arrive, and you’re likely to sip through at least one or two refills while eating. Plus, restaurant meals are notoriously high in salt, meaning you’ll probably be extra thirsty. Start it from now : Drink only water, black coffee or tea, sugar free.
  • Dessert : Think twice about splurging on sweets. Adding on dessert can really put your meal over the top. Cheesecake or a brownie fudge sundae can easily add 1,000 calories more. When you do decide to indulge, share one dessert with the entire table, and enjoy a few bites rather than the whole portion or go for something lighter, like fresh berries with whipped cream, a skim latte or gourmet flavored tea.

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