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Ethnic Eating-Out Tips: Thai, Indian, and French

Fabulous foreign food doesn't have to be fattening

At Any Restaurant

No matter what type of cuisine you choose, here are a few basic strategies for dining out without sabotaging your weight loss plan:

  • Keep it simple. Stick to preparation styles that are uncomplicated, and dishes that don't have a lot of ingredients. If there is a sauce, ask for it on the side. A creamy sauce is almost certain to be full of fat, so enjoy it sparingly by dipping the tines of your fork into the sauce instead of ladling it onto your food. Stay clear of casseroles and foods with lots of cheese, which tend to be high in calories and saturated fat.
  • Have it your way. Restaurants are in the business of customer service, so don't be shy; ask that your food be prepared the way you like it. Ask questions, and see what the chef is willing to do to make your selection healthier. Restaurants are almost always willing to serve salad dressing and sauces on the side so you can control the amount you use.
  • Plan ahead. If you know you'll be going out to eat, bank a few calories earlier in the day so you can splurge a little at the restaurant. Or, step up your workout to burn extra calories in anticipation of your meal.
  • Choose restaurants carefully. Avoid donut shops. Need I say more? Buffets are an absolute test of willpower, so permanently cross them off your list of favorite restaurants. And do yourself a favor and drive by those tempting fried chicken restaurants. Deep-fat frying adds plenty of fat calories that are bad for your waistline and your arteries.
  • Portion control. We eat an estimated one-third of our calories outside the home. And when we eat out, we tend to eat more food. This is not surprising, since most restaurants serve larger portions than we do at home. So keeping your portion guide in mind when you eat out. Consider ordering an appetizer and a salad, or a soup and salad for your meal. Or save half your dinner and bring it home for tomorrow's lunch.

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Reviewed on March 17, 2006

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