With a little preparation, you can enjoy your dining out experience while remaining on your weight management plan. Drink a Slim•Fast Shake or similar type for 2 meals on the days that you are dining out, and follow the guidelines below for a pleasurable and nutritious restaurant style meal!
- Don't arrive at the restaurant hungry - eat a piece of fruit or a serving of vegetables before you leave the house to avoid overindulging on the breadbasket or entrée.
- Be careful of alcoholic beverages - alcohol often stimulates your appetite, and the calories can add up quickly.
- Decide ahead of time what type of restaurant you will patronize: Thai, Japanese, Greek, and Indian cuisines are often naturally lower in fat and calories than Mexican, Italian and French cuisines.
- Look for sensible possibilities! Try ordering your burrito without cheese, or replacing French fries with a baked potato. *Request more veggies and less pasta, or try the vegetarian option on the menu.
- Don't be afraid to ask the waiter for options and suggestions. Restaurants are aware and interested in pleasing their customers, and will most likely accommodate any requests you have.
- Order a salad for an appetizer and mixed fruit for dessert. Make sure to avoid the creamy salad dressings, and ask for the dressing to be served on the side so that you have control over how much is added!
- Enjoy your meal the next day, as well! As soon as your entrée arrives at the table, cut a portion away that you can bring home in a doggie bag.
Many ethnic restaurants with various cuisines are popular dining options. Most, if not all, offer healthy, lower-fat choices. Here are some tips to guide you through making healthier selections. Remember, if you do not understand a word or menu terminology, ask. Your wait staff is there to help.
Tips for eating in a Chinese Restaurant:
- Portion sizes are usually huge. Split an entrée or do what the Chinese do: eat from your bowl of rice, adding one bite of entree to the bowl at a time.
- Take home extras in a doggie bag.
- Ask the waiter to reduce the amount of oil used in the wok; request chicken broth instead of oil for stir-fry and sautéed dishes.
Tips for eating in a French Restaurant:
- Portion sizes are slightly smaller, with the emphasis on quality, not quantity.
- If you are not familiar with the French language or commonly used French food terminology, ask your waiter how a dish is prepared.
- French cuisine is famous for rich sauces; mostly all dishes can be served without the sauce. Ask for the sauce on the side, or skip it all together.
Tips for eating in a Mexican Restaurant:
- Take advantage of the healthier ingredients: salsa, plain beans, low fat sour cream (ask if available) and flour tortillas.
- Request that dishes be served without high fat condiments, such as guacamole, sour cream, and cheese.
- Ask for plain or boiled beans instead of refried, which are often fried in lard or oil.
Tips for eating in a Greek Restaurant:
- Much of the oil used in salad dressings and cooking is olive oil, which is high in (good) monounsaturated fats and lower in harmful saturated fats.
- Portions can be very large, so ask for a doggie bag, or share an entrée.
- Béchamel sauce, a white cream sauce, is often served as a top layer on several dishes. This sauce can easily be removed and placed on the side.
Tips for eating in an Italian Restaurant:
- Beware of large portions, especially for pasta dishes.
- Menus often feature a pasta course followed by a meat course. Choose one or the other; do not feel obligated to select both.
- Side orders of green salads, sautéed or steamed vegetables can be ordered a la carte to accompany a pasta dish.
- Italian bread is almost always put on the table accompanied by a large bottle of olive oil. Allow yourself a helping and remove the temptation by asking to have the rest removed.
- Tomato-based sauces, such as marinara, Neapolitan and primavera are often lower in fat than cream based sauces, such as Alfredo and Carbonara
Tips for eating in an Indian Restaurant:
- Northern Indian cooking features items cooked Tandoori-style, in a clay oven. Milder spices are used. Southern Indian style of cooking incorporates more vegetables and legume (peas and beans) dishes.
- Ghee (clarified butter), coconut milk and cream, all very high in saturated fats, are often used, especially in vegetable dishes. Request that a minimum amount of fat be used when placing your order.
Tips for eating in a Japanese Restaurant:
- Japanese dishes are most often broiled, steamed, marinated, braised or simmered, resulting in low-fat dishes.
- Many vegetable choices are available; steamed rice or plain noodles are prominent.
- Sodium content may be high, due to the use of marinades, soy sauce and pickling spices. Request that MSG not be used.
- Smaller portions can be ordered by asking for appetizers instead of entrée portions