Dining Out

Eating in a restaurant can pose a dilemma for those watching their weight. Here are some ideas for enjoying a healthful dining out experience. Remember that moderation and portion control are important keys. 

Some restaurants have "heart healthy" menu items. These lighter dishes contain less fat and fewer calories than other choices. Normally, they are distinguished from the others by having an apple, heart or other "healthy" symbol next to them on the menu. Look for restaurants that have these alternatives.

Do not be afraid to ask your server how a certain entree is prepared. The preparation of the dish can usually be altered to decrease the fat content in the finished product. Having the skin removed from chicken prior to its preparation or asking for salad dressing on the side are ways you can save calories and fat. You are the customer, and restaurants strive for customer satisfaction. Therefore, they will try to meet all your needs to the best of their ability.

Fast food restaurants offer tempting high-fat foods. If you need french fries to make your meal complete, opt for a small bag to meet your craving. Select foods without cheese; and foods that are grilled or broiled, rather than fried.

Practice these other tips when dining out:

  • For pasta selections, choose a marinara sauce instead of a white sauce 

  • Foods that are grilled, baked, steamed or broiled provide healthy, flavorful alternatives; ask about preparation, however, to ensure your selection isn't swimming in butter

  • Select white chicken or turkey meat rather than dark meat; have the skin removed

  • If you are easily tempted, avoid the "all you can eat" style restaurants 

  • Practice portion control: order a lunch portion, ask for a "doggie bag" or share a dish with a friend

  • Avoid foods that have been prepared in heavy cream

  • Eat slowly! It takes the body about 20 minutes to realize it is full

  • Order your salad or baked potato with the dressing, butter, sour cream and other extras on the side; sparingly use only what you need

  • Trim all visible fat from meat

  • Select fresh fruit, sorbet or frozen yogurt for dessert

Dining out can be a treat, if you do it occasionally. Be alert for healthy, low-fat choices. And savor your company as well as your food. Enjoy!