Here is our Slender Seven guide to dining out, so you can navigate restaurant menus and still feel good about what you are eating.
Start your meal off with a glass of water to help you avoid overeating.
Need food fast? Go for healthy fast casual restaurants, never fast food.
Plan ahead! If you know what restaurant you will be eating at, check out the menu online so you can be more prepared to ask questions and have healthy choices already on your mind. Many restaurants even have nutritional information on their website.
Ditch the sugary drinks. Skip the fancy cocktail or soda if you are trying to watch your calorie intake.
Stay away from the bread basket. You could consumer over 300 calories before ordering your actual meal.
- Or, eat the bread in moderation. Don't drown it in olive oil or butter. Remember - one tablespoon of oil has 120 calories.
Steer clear of unhealthy ways of preparing food, including the buzzwords "fried", "crispy", "tempura", "battered", "creamy" or "smothered." Instead, try to order foods that are grilled, steamed, baked or broiled.
Be assertive! Don't be afraid to ask your waiter to change around a meal to accommodate your needs. For example:
- Steamed, baked or grilled instead of fried
- Cooked without sauce, oil or butter
- Salad dressing on the side
- No cheese, please
- Plain veggies instead of mashed potatoes
- Brown rice instead of white rice
- Pass on the bun (or ask for a lettuce wrap)
If you order a salad, read the description of the toppings! Don't be fooled and get a salad topped with croutons, dried fruit, cheese, bacon bits and a heavy dressing -- this is more calories than an entree may have been!
Don't be afraid of the lean protein. Sure, adding a protein to your salad may add more calories, but it will keep you fuller for longer. Plus, lean protein helps you BURN more calories.
Chose your sides wisely. If you want a starch, choose a complex carbohydrate source (brown rice, sweet potato, quinoa).
Eat a healthy snack before you go out to dinner, then opt for a small salad, vegetable side or lighter fare as your main meal so you are not tempted to overeat.
Share a dish! Out to dinner with friends or family members? Suggest splitting a main course.
Want to avoid overeating? Skip the appetizer or starter salad, and instead order a lean protein with steamed vegetables to fill you up.
Take some home! Often times restaurant portion sizes are more than double what we really need, so box up half your meal and enjoy another delicious meal tomorrow! You can even ask for the to-go box in advance.
Don't get dessert. Or if you do, split it! If you are craving a sweet to finish your meal, share it with your dinner partner. This is an easy fix to save you some major calories.