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Eating Out the Healthy Way

How to dine out without overdoing it

Keep It Simple continued...

I probably don't need to remind you that you should avoid fried foods (menus might describe them as crispy or breaded), including french fries. All these foods contain way too many of the wrong kind of calories. You can indulge in any food on occasion, but forget about deep-fried foods as a regular part of your diet.

When ordering soups, choose broth-based ones over cream-based types to save calories. Researchers have found that when you eat broth-based soup before a meal, you tend to eat less at the meal. That's because soups are filling, especially when they contain vegetables. Give it a try and see if a first course of soup helps you to eat less.

On the Side

Salad dressings and sauces can add a whopping number of calories to a meal. They are best ordered on the side, so you can control how much you use.

A trick to maximize flavor and reduce calories is to stick the tines of your fork into the sauce or dressing before piercing your entrée or salad. Mixing a little vinegar or water with your salad dressing is another way to cut calories.

Keep in mind that vegetable-based sauces like tomato are healthier than creamy ones for topping pasta, meats, fish or appetizers. And whenever possible, use the light versions of mayonnaise and salad dressing. I am often impressed with how similar they taste.

Eat Light and Right

It's so easy to eat too much of the bread or tortilla chips that sit on the table and tempt you. Take a small portion and put them out of your reach, or ask the waiter to take them away.

Skip the butter on your bread, or just use a very small amount. Dipping in olive oil is a bit healthier than butter -- as long as you use it sparingly.

There was a time when ladies in the South were taught to always leave two bites of food on their plates because it was not polite to finish every morsel. I'm not sure I agree with the wisdom, yet this is a good trick to help you learn how to push away from the table and eat a little less.

Here's another trick: If you know you are going out to eat, bank a few calories earlier in the day (or earlier in the week) so you can splurge a little at the restaurant.

With advance planning, wise choices, and portion control, you can enjoy eating out while following your plan. All it takes is a little forethought -- and maybe a healthy snack before leaving home -- so you don't over-order when you arrive at the restaurant.

Reviewed on August 18, 2005
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