Eating out is just a fact of life. There is no way to avoid it and to be frank why would you want to? It’s enjoyable, it lets you gather with people you like, it’s a new experience, and besides who wants to make their food night after night. When you do decide to eat out here are some basic rules to follow to keep the damage to a minimum.
1. First, skip the freebies. The chips and salsa or bread they bring out to the table before your entrée easily add five hundred calories to your meal.
2. While you are skipping go ahead and skip the appetizers. At many restaurants, these are the most calorie-packed offerings so be safe and skip.
3. Order water for your drink. Drinking water before a meal and during a meal helps make your feel full faster.
4. Plan on taking half the food home. Restaurants today serve massive portions of food, way more than anyone needs in one sitting. So when you order ask for a to-go box with your meal and before you dig input half of the meal in that box to take home or toss out later.
5. Order fish, chicken or turkey. Build your meal around a lean protein and you will reduce the calories tremendously versus building that meal around pasta or beef.
6. Load up on salad but watch the dressing. Order a side salad to come out before your meal, dressing on the side. Use only what you have to and that salad will help you make it through the meal without causing too much damage.
7. Skip any entrees in rich cream sauce. Cream sauce is code for fat, so skip it and look for grilled options instead.
8. Remember ketchup is not a vegetable. Ketchup is essentially red sugar sauce so avoid it. Use mustard if you need extra flavor.
9. Fried is never OK. I don’t care what you fry it is never ok to eat anything deep-fried. Deep frying adds a ton of calories to whatever you are eating and there is no nutritional value in that deep fry batter.
10. Just say no to dessert. While some places make it tempting by wheeling out a cart full of goodies right to your table remember that dessert will be at least five hundred calories and many approach one thousand calories.
If you follow some or all of the rules above you will have successfully navigated through the dining out minefield with minimum damage done. Nobody expects you to be perfect because we all know life isn’t perfect but the more of the list above you follow the better off your waistline will be.