Many of us find ourselves eating out on a regular basis due to social or corporate demands. Restaurants' objectives are not to keep our weight in line, they want to make the food so tasty you'll keep coming back. Guess how it's done? Fat, salt and sugar! And the more the merrier! Hence the epidemic in obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain cancers.
On average Americans eat out at least four times per week. Can you eat out and maintain your weight without consuming only veggies and steamed fish? Yes you can. Here is my advice:
• Check out the restaurant before you go
Even though you can always make demands on the kitchen, a menu that doesn't only consist of fried foods and cream sauces helps. Look for a variety of cooking methods such as grilled, roasted, stir fried and baked items.
• Don't be swayed by your company's choices
Even if you're taking out the president of the company and he's eating and drinking like there's no tomorrow, keep to your healthier choices in a subtle way. This means that, if he's drinking like a fish, enjoy a couple of drinks, nursing them slowly while alternating with water.
• Ask the waiter questions about the menu
Don't be afraid to ask for "interpretations" of menu items. If the items sound too excessive, ask for substitutions. Order the sauces and dressings on the side; ask for grilled vegetables rather than those served in a "tempura" style; and ask for tomato- or stock-based soups rather than cream.
• Restaurant lingo
Restaurants have a way of describing their meals without really telling you how it's prepared. Words like "crispy," "tender," "juicy," "legendary," "old fashioned," "velvety" and "Southern" are usually giveaways that the foods are either deep fried or loaded with butter, cream, cheese or excess oil.
• Watch out for the appetizers and "freebies"
Appetizers not only add to the cost of your meal but also to your waistline. Often appetizers are deep fried, covered in heavy sauces or filled with butter or cheese. If you want to be social and indulge, do so by either being more selective, enjoying a couple of appetizers as your main meal or lightening up your dinner choice. The "freebies" consist of the warm addictive breads, dips, olives or chips served before the meal. Salt and fat whets your appetite for more salt and fat. Remember there are no "free" rides!
• Watch out for "House" salads
Salads somehow always have the interpretation of health. But there are salads that can contain more calories and fat than your entire meal. Beware of excess meats, cheeses and dressings on salads. Choose a leafy vegetable based salad and ask for the dressing on the side.
• Don't drink your calories
My biggest advice to lay low on any beverages, alcoholic or non alcoholic. Any wine, beer, mixed drink or juice will cost you around 150 calories. Order wine by the glass rather than the bottle if possible which allows you to better monitor how much you're drinking. If your guest is drinking one after another, don't try to keep up. It's not a race.
Enjoy your food and wine when dining out while subtlety maintaining your weight maintenance guidelines.
TIPS FOR DINING OUT