Eating Out – Dieter's Dilemma

By Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D.
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Eating Out - Dieter's Dilemma

For those watching their weight, the joys of dining out are often tempered by the temptations of large portions and too many choices. And, without knowing exactly how foods are prepared, it's hard to know exactly what you're being served, or how many calories you're taking in.

Some people try to swear off restaurant dining while trying to drop a few pounds, but realistically, eating out is a fact of our busy lifestyle. With a little knowledge and planning, you can learn to make the best choices when you eat out and still stick with your diet.

Steering away from the drive-through is probably a good first step towards healthy dining out. Although some fast food restaurants do offer healthy alternatives, the usual fare is often much more enticing. Instead, choose a restaurant where you know you can get what you want, prepared how you want it.

When glancing at a menu, it helps to have a plan. Zeroing in on appetizers is a good strategy – the portions are small, and a couple of carefully chosen starters with a salad and a light soup makes a great meal. You can also keep portions reasonable by splitting an entrée with a companion (ask for an extra salad or veggie on the side).

Since we tend to eat whatever we are served – whether it's a little or a lot – ask to have half your meal set aside for carry out before it's served. That way, you'll eat half as much but you can still have the satisfaction of cleaning your plate.

Restaurants don't often skimp on fat – it adds a lot of flavor and texture to foods and it's an inexpensive ingredient. Fried foods are an obvious no-no, but added fats such as spreads, dressings, sauces and gravies should be limited, too. Salads and veggies are the healthiest foods around, but not if they're swimming in dressing or drenched in butter or rich sauces. Ask for these foods plain, with the toppings on the side so you can control how much you add. Read entrée descriptions carefully, and ask your server if you're not sure how something is prepared. "Crispy", "creamy" or "batter-dipped" foods are likely to be fatty and rich, while foods that are steamed, baked, broiled, roasted or grilled are usually safe. On the side, try skipping the starchy rice or potato and ask to swap it for an extra serving of vegetables.

Don't be fooled by the word "salad" – it's a term that is often used loosely to mean any combination of foods, but they're not all healthy. The addition of bacon, cheese, sour cream, fatty meats and mayonnaise-rich potato or pasta salads to a bed of greens can send calories skyrocketing. Ditto on those salads served in huge bread bowls or fried tortilla shells.

Think about how you usually eat when you're sticking to your plan, and try to find similar foods on the menu so you can enjoy your meal without guilt. If you're armed with a little menu savvy and a good strategy, dining out and dieting can go hand-in-hand.

Susan Bowerman is a consultant to Herbalife.

Herbalife is a Proud Member of the Direct Selling Association and a Signatory to the DSA Code of Ethics


en-IN | 18-11-2017 15:12:36 | NAMP2HLASPX03