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10 Tips for Ordering a Healthier Meal at a Restaurant

Most people who are health-conscious and want to maintain a healthy weight find it easier to eat at home. But eating out is often a social event that you shouldn't have to miss out on. Here are a few simple tips to follow, so you can tag along to your next ladies night, or double date, without giving in to temptation.

- Check the menu. Many menus (even those at fast food restaurants) have low-calorie options, so ask the server to help you.

- Don't arrive hungry. You should go out to eat with an appetite - just don't leave the house starving. If you are famished when you get to the restaurant, those free chips or the early arrival of bread will look too good to pass up. Try eating something high in fiber (like a salad) or a handful of almonds before you step out your door.

- Start with soup or salad. Foods that are high in water, protein, good fats, and fiber help us to feel full and are a great way to start a meal. Ask for all the dressings, condiments and sauces on the side.

- Choose food with low fat cooking method: such as streaming, baking or grilling instead of deep fried. So opt for grilled chicken instead of crispy, fried chicken.

- Slow down. You are at a restaurant to enjoy yourself. Slowing down helps you to appreciate why you are there and lets your brain catch up to your stomach. Putting your fork down after every bite is a great way to slow down your eating.

- Leave it. You don't have to eat everything on your plate. Leave foods you don't like or that don't fit your diet.

- Take it home. If your portion size is large, ask for a to-go box as soon as your meal comes, and take the rest home to enjoy the next day.

- Limit alcohol. Alcohol not only adds calories but may also stimulate your appetite. Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions - a bad idea when you are trying to stick to a diet. Remember to drink in moderation. For wine-lovers, order one glass instead of splitting a bottle.

- Drink water. Watching what you eat is important, but drinks are the biggest source of hidden calories at a restaurant. You can avoid many extra calories by choosing only water, coffee, or tea without adding extra sugar.

- Share it. Entrees (and even desserts) can be split with a friend or loved one to reduce calories.

With a little planning, eating out can be easy (and fun!).


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