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Tips to help you stay on track when you are not the cook!

Have you been meticulously counting your calories and measuring your food for weeks and inching closer to your weight loss goal and then BAM!, you are invited to dine with friends at a favorite restaurant? Do Not Panic! Here are a few tips to help you trim empty calories, make healthy menu selections and enjoy your dining experience without blowing your calorie budget.

Beverages:

  • If you’re tired of water, ask about a ½ sweetened/1/2 unsweetened tea or hot tea or coffee with low-fat milk or sparkling water with a slice of lime.
  • Choose one of the three, appetizer, alcohol or dessert. Decide before you even sit down at the table. If you want alcohol, enjoy, but skip the appetizer/bread and dessert.
  • If you do enjoy an alcoholic beverage, be sure to avoid sweet drinks and select beer or wine instead. Ask for a glass of water as well.

Appetizers:

  • Enjoy an appetizer, but stay away from those that are deep-fried, highly salted or creamy, cheese laden.
  • Try starting your meal with a salad, packed with vegetables and avoid the bread or crackers put on the table when you arrive. You can even ask the server not to bring the bread & butter to the table when you sit down.
  • Be adventurous and considering trying the pumpkin hummus with jicama sticks or the crudité with pesto.
  • Experiment and look for appetizers that have vegetables or whole grains with flavorful dips or low fat cheeses or create it from the menu.

Entrée:

  • Ask for whole wheat bread if you order a sandwich and opt for mustard instead of mayo. Better yet, ask if they have any of that pesto!
  • Ask for salad dressings and other condiments on the side. You control the amount.
  • Choose an entrée that is loaded with vegetables and stir-fried, steamed or roasted.
  • Avoid deep-fried entrees and go for the ones that are lightly sautéed, roasted or grilled. Don’t be shy about asking the chef to grill something that is listed on the menu as fried.
  • If the restaurant offers small plates, consider ordering one with a salad or another healthy appetizer as your meal. Get creative!
  • AVOID ALL YOU CAN EAT BUFFETs, but if you can’t, order from the menu and eliminate the temptation to over do it.
  • If the restaurant is known for it’s large portions, do the best that you can to order something yummy but healthy and when your meal arrives ask for a doggy bag. Better yet, decide up front to share it with a friend. If you don’t want to worry about packing it up after you’ve eaten - you can ask for half your portion to be put into a doggy bag before you eat dinner.
  • Order foods that do not have a creamy sauce or gravies. Instead, look for menu items that have a tomato or vegetable puree based sauce.

Dessert:

  • If you choose dessert (because you did not choose a cocktail or appetizer!), select one that has fruit as the main ingredient and ask for a spoon for everyone at the table.
  • If you can’t resist chocolate, go for dark chocolate that tends to contain less sugar and is loaded with antioxidants.
  • Ask for a hot beverage, coffee, tea, and espresso with skim milk on the side.

Empowering yourself with helpful tips and planning will make for an enjoyable dining experience without the calorie-laden guilt. Bon Apetit!

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