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A Simple Guide to Dining Out Sensibly in Any Situation or Setting

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A Simple Guide to Dining Out Sensibly in Any Situation or Setting

Resist Restaurant Temptations
Here are some tips to help prevent you from being tempted at restaurants.

Plan ahead. Many restaurants now offer nutrition information on their web sites. Before you go to the restaurant, visit its web site and check out which menu items fit within your eating plan. P.F. Chang’s, Pei Wei, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, On the Border, Corner Bakery Cafe and Chili’s are some restaurants that offer a nutritional analysis of their menu. In addition, many of the major fast food chains provide this information.

Never arrive at a restaurant overly hungry. By the time you sit down and open the menu, you may throw all your healthy intentions out the window. You may also fill up on bread or chips. Eat every four to five hours to help keep hunger under control. And eat a snack such as a piece of fruit or some light yogurt before leaving the house.

Don’t eat as if it’s your last meal. During the past few years, many restaurants have traded quality for quantity. This has led to portion distortion. Always assume the dish you have selected contains two to three servings. Share an entree with someone or split the meal in half before you start to eat it. Keep the other half for your next day’s lunch.

Make special requests. Ask for the sauce on the side — even if it’s for a sandwich. If you’re ordering grilled chicken, fish or meat, ask for it to be prepared without oil or butter. And ask for accompanying vegetables to be prepared without butter.

Watch out for salad extras. You might think ordering a salad is the healthiest choice. But did you know a grilled chicken Caesar salad may contain 800 to 1,000 calories? The next time you aim for something healthy, order the dressing on the side — dip your fork first in the dressing, then in the salad. Every bite of salad will have a little dressing on it. Skip cheese and bacon toppings. And choose salads that have a lot of color to maximize flavor and antioxidants.

Make healthy pizza choices. Pizza on Friday nights may be a tradition in your family. Instead of depriving yourself, consider ordering thin-crust pizza with half the cheese. Order a vegetarian pie or request lean protein such as Canadian bacon, chicken or shrimp.

A World of Flavor
No matter what kind of food you’re in the mood for, you can always find a healthy option. Here are some suggestions for smart menu choices.

Italian. While at your favorite Italian restaurant, choose grilled chicken or fish, and pasta with marinara sauce. Chicken piccata or pasta primavera are also good options. Popular dining disasters include lasagna, which may contain 1,000 calories and 50 grams of fat, and chicken parmigiano, which may have 1,500 calories and 68 grams of fat.

Mexican. Be sure to have a healthy snack before heading off to a Mexican restaurant. You’ll be less tempted to fill up on chips. Did you know that one tortilla chip may contain 20 to 25 calories and 1 gram of fat? Take a small handful of chips, break them into small pieces and enjoy them slowly until your meal is ready. Don’t reach for seconds. For your entree, split an order of chicken fajitas grilled without oil, black beans instead of refried beans, and guacamole instead of sour cream. Mexican cuisine dining disasters include enchilada platters, which may have 1,550 calories and 85 grams of fat, and chicken quesadillas, which may have 1,430 calories and 91 grams of fat.

Chinese. At a Chinese restaurant, select dishes that are steamed or stirfried (light on the oil) rather than meals that contain fried vegetables and meats. Order steamed rice (brown rice is the best choice) instead of fried rice. Ask for extra vegetables. Dishes prepared with sweet sauces or nuts come with a lot of calories. Popular dining disasters include sweet and sour pork, which may have 910 calories and 43 grams of fat, and kung pao chicken, which may have 1,230 calories and 51 grams of fat.

Thai. If you’re in the mood for Thai food, entrees such as steamed fish with spicy Thai sauce, stir-fried chicken, seafood or tofu with vegetables are good choices. Avoid soups and curries prepared with coconut milk. A major dining disaster at a Thai cuisine is pad Thai, which may contain 990 calories and 38 grams of fat.

Bon appetit!