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Elaine Magee, RD, MPH.

© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.

WebMD Archive

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On any given day, over half of America eats at least one meal away from home. That can spell disaster for someone trying to lose weight.

Restaurants serve much larger portions with higher fat content than we would eat at home. Not to mention the temptation to choose foods not on your dieting plan!

For help with this, we turned to WebMD Dietitian Elaine Magee. She says you can have a wonderful dining experience if you'll spend a little extra time with your waiter.

May I take your order?

Oh, can I ask you a few questions first?


I'm wondering if this dish is deep fried? Can it be steamed, grilled or broiled instead of fried? Is there any butter or oil added? Can it be cooked in wine or broth instead of butter and oil?

Can the skin be removed before this dish is cooked? Can I have the sauce on the side? And one last question. Can I substitute salad or streamed veggies instead of the french fries with this dish?

Yeah we can do a small mixed green salad.

Beef is the main culprit for saturated fat, followed by whole fat dairy. Elaine suggests the following. Choose lean cuts, like filet mignon, and sirloin.

As for cheese, most restaurants don't cook with low-fat varieties. So stay away from extra cheese, and keep those portions small.

Fill up on veggies. Eat them about 10 minutes before the main meal for the maximum effect.

The next tip is about portion control. Portion sizes in today's restaurants have nearly doubled in the last decade. That doesn't mean we have to eat all of it!

Ask for the petite or junior size portions or get your money's worth by putting half into a doggie bag. Enjoy it the next day for lunch.

ordering fast food from drive-thru

What about that American staple, fast food? Elaine says to choose salads and ask for the light dressing.

Go for the whole wheat bun if they've got one.

choose chicken and make sure it's grilled or roasted, not fried.

If you must have a burger, order the smallest, no more than a quarter pound.

Keep away from any mayo or special sauce.

And whatever you do, don't supersize! For WebMD, I'm Sandee LaMotte.

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