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Dining Out – What to Care For

We all love going out to dinner but typically, the types of food and quantity served is over the top.  For people trying to lose weight or those wanting to stay in shape, eating at restaurants is tough.  After all, there are dishes with heavy gravies, rich sauces, sweet desserts, high starch potatoes, and the list goes on.  Obviously, foods such as these do not work well for a diet scenario.  When dining out, what to care for includes choices.

Simply put, eating is a part of life and a requirement to stay alive.  We eat breakfast with the family, lunch with colleagues, and dinner with clients.  Then, there are the weekends, filled with barbecues with friends, brunch with a spouse, and the list just keeps on going.  All this food tastes great but if not careful, the calories will start adding on the pounds.

For dining out, what to care for should start with good planning.  If you know that you will be going out to dinner, then stick with a breakfast of oatmeal and a piece of fresh fruit, and lunch consisting of a bowl of soup or salad, or something similar.  In other words, the goal should be to cut down on calories throughout the day so you can enjoy the evening meal out.

Now, just because you eliminated daytime calories does not mean you can go all out at the restaurant.  Instead, when dining out, what to care for also includes choices.  Today, most restaurants offer healthier choices.  For instance, you will find dishes on the menu that are low calories, low in sodium, or foods that follow a low carbohydrate plan.  However, if you go to a restaurant where special food items are not offered, take your time to look over the menu, choosing steamed or baked fish, rice, and vegetables.  This way, you still enjoy the wonderful food but without all the unwanted calories.

You can even save calories while dining out by avoiding sweetened beverages, sticking with tea instead sweetened with artificial sweetener such as NutraSweet or Splenda.  Salad dressings are another area where significant calories can be saved..  Cream dressings such as blue cheese, ranch, or thousand island are loaded with calories whereas vinaigrettes are a better choice.  Keep in mind that some restaurants now offer low-calorie or low-fat dressings as well.

If you have health problems with the heart, you will be happy to know that many of the restaurants currently offer heart choices, which are dishes that promote health.  If not, another dining out, what to care for needs to be in asking.  You have nothing to lose by asking the chef if he or she can modify a dish.  Although some will not, you will discover that some chefs are very accommodating.

Remember, even if you eat out, you can still stick with your diet meal plan.  It is all about making alternative choices, looking over the menu, good planning, and taking the chance to ask for modifications.  Another option is to find restaurants you like, those that meet your healthy choice needs.  That way, you would have a number of restaurants from which to choose when you do go out.

We also recommend that you take your time eating.  When you eat slowly, you will feel full quicker, thereby, not eating as much.  Slow down so you can enjoy your meal but also allow the food to fill you up so you do not eat too much.  Finally, you should consider the following suggestions when it comes time to order.

• If you are unsure what is in a particular dish or need to know about a serving size, always feel free to ask
• Cut your food in thirds, taking one-third of the meal home for lunch the following day.  Remember, you are not forced to finish everything on your plate.
• Always choose steamed or grilled fish
• Drink water before order and then throughout the meal, which will help fill you up
• When ordering a baked potato, request no topping, using low-fat sour cream or salsa to spice it up
• For low-salt diets, request your food not be seasoned
• Stay away from breaded foods, they are loaded in fat
• Whenever you order a salad or any type of dish with dressing, sauce, or gravy, request it to be brought on the side.  With this, you can control the amount you use, saving calories.
• Request to switch out French fries for cottage cheese, onion rings for coleslaw, or other fattening side dishes with a healthier choice
• Limit the amount of alcohol consumed.  If you want a drink, consider wine, which is low in calories.
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