By one estimate, we eat nearly one-third of our meals away from home. That means a lot of money for restaurants and plenty of temptation and stress for the dieting diner.
Before you head back out to your favorite eatery, digest the following seven dining-out tips served fresh by Dr. Paul Rivas, author of The Cheater's Diet (HCI).
"Whether you end up at the local fast-food burger joint or a white-linen restaurant that offers nouvelle French cuisine, eating out can severely test your resolve to stick to your diet," Dr. Rivas says.
"To make matters worse, trying to decipher what's healthful on a typical menu can be like trying to look up a phone number blindfolded."
A Dieter's 7-Tip Survival Guide for Dining Out
Eat only half of everything on your plate and bag the rest for another time. Half the food means half the calories. You won't be deprived of anything. Restaurants are notorious for offering portions that are way out of proportion to a size that's healthful and satisfying for you.
You don't want to find yourself looking down at a plate filled with some food that will make you fat and wreck your health. French fries are a good example. They're pure carbohydrate drenched in saturated fat and smothered in salt. And if you get into a test of willpower over them, you'll lose. Ordering each course individually can save you a considerable amount of grief.
Pasta should be a small side dish, not a main course. Skip anything that's breaded or battered, and if you need a sauce to liven up your fare, try salsas or relishes.
Soups are great for satisfying your appetite without loading you up with carbs or fats. Any watery food is. Salads are another great option, although be careful not to load up on croutons or to smother your veggies in creamy dressing. You can quickly turn a salad into a calorie-dense meal if you're not careful.
You can make an interesting meal out of appetizers, and because they often comprise small portions, they're a great way to control your food intake. Be careful of the kinds of appetizers you choose, however. A mountain of nachos, cheese and refried beans will not help you stick to your plan.
Say "No" to sugar and bread, and insist that the server check with the chef to make certain what you've ordered doesn't contain butter. Many restaurants, especially expensive ones with great chefs, add gobs of butter to many dishes to enhance the taste.
This is tough advice, I know, but those dips can add significantly to your calorie intake. If you're going to eat carrots and broccoli spears dipped in bleu-cheese sauce, you may as well leave the veggies in peace and attack a pint of chocolate cookie dough ice cream!
Author: John McGran