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Eat Out, Eat Smart

From deli to Tex-Mex, here are dining-out choices that won't do in your diet

The Pub continued...

But don't cry in your light beer. You can find some healthier items on a pub menu, such as "barbecue chicken or grilled chicken, pot roast, meat loaf with tomato sauce, filet mignon or sirloin steak, or a turkey pita sandwich," says Susan Mitchell, RD, of Winter Park, Fla.

She also recommends "soups if they are loaded with beans or you can see through them (as in broth-based), and salad with the dressings on the side" -- but watch out for fatty toppings like bacon, cheese, and croutons.

Pub fare tends to be served in generous portions. So even if you order lean, go easy.

"Portions are typically huge, so split when you can," says Mitchell, author of Fat is Not Your Fate. "And most appetizers are super-high fat (battered and fried) so it's best to skip unless there is peel-'n'-eat shrimp or oysters on the half shell."

Enjoy the Experience

Whatever type of restaurant you choose, remember that dining out is supposed to be a pleasant experience. More important, you're the customer -- and the wait staff and chefs are there to please.

"It's important to keep in mind that the restaurant industry is a hospitality industry," says Sheila Cohn, RD, senior manager of nutrition policy at the National Restaurant Association. "Ask for your salad dressing on the side, ask for grilled or steamed veggies instead of fried food, ask for red sauce instead of cream sauce with pasta.

"Almost every restaurant is happy to make accommodations for you and help you receive the meal you want."

Another important point to keep in mind: Whether you go for a healthy menu choice or decide to splurge on a high-calorie favorite, too much of a good thing is just too much.

"A lot of people are concerned over portion size," says Cohn. "But over 90% of restaurants have take-out boxes, which means you can turn tonight's dinner into tomorrow's lunch."

Reviewed on December 18, 2008

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