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Try these tips to make those romantic food dates less fattening.

Many romantic dates involve gazing lovingly across the table at your sweetheart as you both enjoy a fabulous meal. But while these food dates may be great for your love life, they can wreak havoc on your waistline.

Is it possible to stay on track with healthy eating goals, and still have a spectacular time on date night? Experts say there are things you can do to not only survive food dates, but thrive on the them.

Romance Takes Time

One of the things working in your favor on a food date is time. Eating tends to go more slowly when you're sharing a candlelit dinner. There is sweet conversation, hand-kissing, foot-fondling, etc. ... all of which takes time.

Eating slowly is a good thing for weight control. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it is no longer hungry but is comfortable. If you eat quickly, you might be eating past "comfortable," because you haven’t given your stomach a chance to communicate to your brain.

Enjoying a romantic dinner in courses -- be it at home or in a restaurant -- helps slow down the eating process, too. Just make sure to have small portions of each course.

Deprivation Is Not on the Menu

Have you ever barely eaten during the day to fit into fancy clothes for a special evening out? Or have you barely eaten during the day to "bank" those calories for later on, when you'll be enjoying a food date in a fabulous restaurant?

According to Jennifer L. Derenne, MD, a staff psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, this type of restricting often encourages overeating, and can leave you feeling physically uncomfortable and emotionally stressed.

"The best strategy for special occasion meals is to continue to eat a reasonable, healthy diet in the days leading to the event," says Derenne. "Once there, order foods that you enjoy -- including dessert!"

Derenne believes that if you aren’t famished when you sit down to a special meal, the chances are better that you'll enjoy reasonable-sized portions.

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