Low-Fat Eating In Restaurants

Low-fat dining in restaurants is very possible if you know what to watch out for.

Restaurants can be real land mines as far as sticking to your low-fat diet goes. Even if you aren't on a diet, if you eat out often enough, and make the wrong choices, you will soon find yourself in need of one. Try the following tips to make your next meal out a healthy one.

1. Choose meats that are grilled, as opposed to fried or sautéed. Grilled fish, such as salmon or tilapia, is a good choice that is high in protein and all-around healthy.

2. Choose a side of vegetables, when they are offered, as opposed to a baked potato or French fries.

3. Order a salad and put your own dressing on it. If you know that you are going out to eat, take a container with you that has your own low-fat dressing in it. Eating a salad with full-fat dressing rarely saves anyone any calories, and if it consists primarily of iceberg lettuce, it is not even very healthy.

4. If you order a steak, order sirloin or tenderloin. Stay away from the high fat prime rib! Also, a serving size of meat is considered to be three ounces. Regardless of where you are eating, when you place your order, ask for a take-out box at the same time. That way, when your meal is brought to you, you can immediately cut your eight-ounce steak (or huge serving of whatever) in half and prepare to take it home. If you have ordered vegetables as a side dish, and are taking it easy on the breadbasket, you have ordered a healthy meal at that point.

5. When eating at a Mexican restaurant, try to stick to chicken or bean dishes. If you order beans, order whole ones, as opposed to the refried variety. Chicken Monterrey, with its colorful vegetable topping, is a great choice if you ask the waiter to hold the cheese. If possible, sit far away from the chip basket. The salsa accompanying the chips is healthy, however, and is great for jazzing up a bland burrito.

6. If you are really craving a high-fat meal, try ordering a smaller version of it as an appetizer. This way, you may still be eating the fat, but you are eating much less of it. Often, appetizers offer a more reasonable portion of food anyway. Of course, eating eight sticks of fried cheese is not a low-fat choice!

7. Don't hesitate to ask the waiter if the meal can be prepared with less fat. Often, the cook will be happy to accommodate such a request. This works especially well in Chinese restaurants when you have ordered a stir-fried dish. Often, the cook can simply substitute more broth for the oil when preparing the dish. Never order sweet and sour anything in a Chinese restaurant. What this really means is fried food. Stay away!

8. Do not eat any pasta with "Alfredo" in the name. Whoever this person was, he must have loved high fat foods! Alfredo sauce is cream-based, and often has cheese added as well. Instead, if you are ordering a pasta dish, choose one with a tomato-based sauce. Alfredo gets sneaky here, by offering a sun-dried tomato sauce in many instances. It is still fattening. Stay far away from Alfredo!

9. Eat a bowl of soup. Usually restaurants have several to choose from. When you order, make sure to choose a soup such as minestrone or vegetable, and avoid all soups that feature cream or cheese as primary ingredients. A popular soup in many Mexican restaurants is chicken tortilla soup. This can be a good one to order if you request it without cheese, and ask them to go easy on the fried tortillas.

10. If you can't resist the dessert menu, order one dessert and share it with the entire table. Ask the waiter to bring six forks, or whatever the case may be. This practice is becoming increasingly common, especially since restaurant desserts have reached gargantuan proportions! If there are not six people at the table, promise yourself that you will only have three bites. Even if you ate nothing else besides the dessert, you would add over a thousand fat-laden calories to your day's intake in most cases.

Eating out does not need to be an exercise in deprivation. If you are the person who will be choosing the restaurant, try choosing a Japanese restaurant that offers sushi or low-fat teriyaki dishes. Almost everything on the menu will be low fat, except for the tempura. There is a reason why the Japanese don't have the same weight problems as Americans, and you can see why when you glance at a Japanese restaurant's menu. Vietnamese restaurants also offer primarily low-fat options. Taking yourself out of the mainstream can save you many calories as well as provide an enjoyable dining experience. Meanwhile, at other restaurants, take comfort in knowing that you will get two meals for the price of one since you have asked for a to go container at the outset of the meal. Make sure to refrigerate the leftovers when you get home, or better yet, actually give the leftovers to the dog, in remembrance of the doggy bags of old. Your dog will thank you, and so will your scale.

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