October 26, 2012
Dining Out the Right Way

I remember when I was a strapping young lad and my father used to take us out to eat. Back then, dining out was for really special occasions. At most my family dined out once every three months and usually for birthday, anniversary or graduation celebrations. I remember the restaurant menus had literally one page titled "Entrees." That was it! There was no section for appetizers, soups, salads, first courses, second courses, aperitifs or desserts.

These days there are 20-page menus (if you don't believe me, take a look at the one at the Cheesecake Factory) and people dine out more often. Restaurant meals, in general, are higher in calories, fat, salt and sugar than what you make at home. Even if you do your best to order the grilled fish with only vegetables, you cannot account for all those hidden fats on the grill that are on there for the dish before yours. And those vegetables are laden with butter.

Food prepared in restaurants is usually calorie-dense without bulk so that we eat without feeling full. And let me give you a stern warning: Beware of buffet lines! The large selection of different types of food makes it difficult to control overeating. Do you really think your body needs to go back for a second, third or maybe even a fourth plate? The reality is that restaurants serve large portions to make sure that no one complains that they didn't get enough to eat. Restaurant portions are usually very large and people generally eat more when they dine out in a group than when they eat out alone.

So how can you dine right and still be able to enjoy a restaurant experience with friends?

Try these tips and you will be able to stop those hidden fats from ending up on your waistline:

• Have a healthy snack before you go out to eat.
• Get water when your waiter takes the drink order. Remember that you don't need all those extra liquid calories!
• Refuse the bread or, if your other guests want bread, ask that it be served with the entrée.
• Ask lots of questions such as, "How is it prepared?" and, "Does it come with a sauce?"
• Pass on the appetizers. If there is clear broth soup, it's a good way to start.
• Salad should be mixed greens without olives, avocados or croutons. Ask for the dressing on the side. Don't forget the fork trick-dip your fork in the dressing first and then the salad, not the other way around.
• If you don't want to be tempted, be the first to order and then get up and leave the table while the others order.
• If you order a sandwich, ask for salad rather than the chips or fries.
• When eating from a buffet, take the salad first, and then return to your seat. For your entrée choose lean meats or fish.
• If you can, choose restaurants that offer table service instead of all-you-can-eat buffet.
• If you must eat at a fast food restaurant, order a grilled chicken sandwich with no mayo. Another trick is to throw away half of the bun.
• For breakfast, consider eggs made with Egg Beaters or egg whites.

When it comes to dining out, make a conscious effort to take the focus off the food and make it more about the people you are dining out with. This will make it more about the experience and less about the calorie-loaded food!

Learn more tips and tricks in our Dining Out Videos at and

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