Resisting temptation when eating out is nearly impossible when you’re on a diet. Wherever you go you’ll always be surrounded by an endless selection of delectable food choices. Don’t let the temptation of eating out dissuade you from your healthy eating plan. Keep these tips in mind to help you stay within your diet plan and help you with your choices.

Tip #1” Practice food swaps.

Trade those high-calorie and high-sodium foods with these food items for a healthier meal.

High-Calorie Foods Swap with…
Pies, bacon, sausages Chicken( without the skin), steamed or broiled fish, lean meat, pulses, such as beans, lentils, peas
Sauces made with cream and cheese Tomato and vegetable sauces
Fried rice Boiled or steamed rice
Chips, mashed potatoes, french fries Baked or boiled potatoes without salt or butter
Cakes, chocolate or creamy puddings, ice cream Sorbets, fruit salad, low-fat yogurt
Buttered vegetables, salads served with oily dressing or mayonnaise Vegetables and salads served plain or salad dressing on the side


Tip #2: When choosing a restaurant, try to avoid the all-you-can-eat buffet-style restaurants.

This is because you’re more likely to eat more food and calories than what you need.

Tip #3: If you’re familiar with the restaurant’s menu, decide on what you’re going to order before you go.

This will keep you from being tempted to order foods that are high in fat or calories.

Tip #4: Learn to decode the menu.

Keep these things in mind when you read the menu:

  • Foods served buttered, fried, crispy, pan-fried, scalloped, sauteed, creamed or stuffed are usually high in fat and calories. Look for grilled, poached, steamed, roasted, baked or broiled foods for fewer calories.
  • Avoid foods that are high in sodium, such as those served pickled, smoked, in cocktail sauce, in broth, or in soy or teriyaki sauce.
  • Steer clear of dishes with lots of cheese, cream and mayonnaise; these foods are usually high in calories.
  • Instead of cream sauces, choose vegetable-based sauces like tomatoes for topping pasta, fish, meats or appetizers.
  • Select entrees that feature chicken, seafood or lean meat, and avoid fatty meats. If you do order meat, ask the chef to trim the fat or remove the skin from the chicken.
  • Look out for dishes highlighted as “healthy” or ask the attendant for the healthiest choices on the menu.
  • Beware of low-carb options. A low-carb dish may not necessarily be low in calories, particularly if it’s highly saturated in fats and oils.

Tip #5: Don’t be afraid to ask.

Ask if the restaurant can prepare your food to order, such as by leaving off or going light on the cheese, butter, dressings, and other high-fat items. If you’re following a low-fat or sodium-restricted diet, you can ask the chef to prepare the food with very little salt or butter or none at all. This way you can still stay within the limits of your meal plan.

Tip #6: Ask what kinds of oils your food is prepared with or cooked in.

The healthier choices are monounsaturated oils, such as olive, canola and peanut oils, and polyunsaturated oils, like corn, soy bean, safflower and sunflower oils.

Tip #7: Avoid ordering nibbles or before-the-meal extras, such as appetizers, bread and butter, and cocktails.

Eating these before your meal can ramp up your calories. If you must have something to munch on while you wait for your meal, try ordering a plate of raw vegetables or bread sticks.

Tip #8: Order a salad or a vegetable side dish if your meal doesn’t come with vegetables.

Vegetables will help to fill you up with fewer calories. If it does, ask for three or four times the normal serving and offer to pay extra.

Tip #9: Ask for smaller portions of your dish if they’re available or if you can share an entree with a companion.

If smaller portions are not available, ask the half of your entree to be placed in a to-go box to eat it later.

Tip #10: Look for healthy substitutions.

Ask for healthier substitutions. For instance, ask if you can have a baked potato with low-fat or fat-free sour cream instead of onion rings or French fries.

Tip #11: Take a glass of fresh fruit juice or water with your meal as this can fill you up and make you eat less.

Tip #12: Skip the fancy drinks and cocktails as they contain sugary additions that can ramp up your calories.

Opt for a glass of wine, a light beer, tonic and vodka or a martini instead.

Tip #13: Skip the dessert.

If you must have dessert, ask for fresh fruits, fruit that is baked into puddings, sorbets, low-fat yogurt or custard made with low-fat milk.

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