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Dine Out without Doing Yourself In

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Learn how to eat out without killing your diet.

women eating out together

JJ Virgin: It's that time of the year when you're running around and don't really want to deal with making dinner. It just seems easier to pop into a local restaurant to grab a quick bite. Is it possible to do that while staying on your program? The amazing news is YES! You can actually make eating out an easier way to stay on your plan than eating in.

The biggest benefit of eating out is that you'll never have seconds, plus it's literally impossible to snack around the kitchen while you're doing meal preparation. You can also give instructions to your waiter and eat exactly the way you want to while trying new foods, enjoying your friends, and de-stressing.

I have a few simple tips on how to eat out and keep it healthy:

  • Act as a menu detective. Your job is to find the best protein choices and then ignore the sides that come with it. If that grilled salmon has a big mountain of mashed potatoes next to it on the menu, you can pass on those carbs. Now, scan down the menu and notice how the steak dish comes with wonderful grilled veggies. Just ask your waiter to make a "sides" swap.
  • Be BFFs with your waiter or waitress. You don't need to explain that you're on an eating plan. Just simply say, "I need your help! I'm trying to eat healthy, so could we do xyz?" If you're nice about it, then they will make any swap you want, and even make suggestions on other healthy meal choices and favorites. They will also make sure the kitchen listens to your requests.
  • Start out your meal with a great salad of mixed greens and an assortment of veggies. Shop the menu and swap on the dressings as well. Lose the sugary and/or creamy choices like raspberry vinaigrette, Asian dressing, or creamy Italian, and ask for olive oil and vinegar. Also beware of foods that turn a salad into a dessert, such as candied nuts and sweet, dried fruits. Don't eat hunks of blue cheese that turn a simple salad into a 1,000 calorie proposition. Opt for baby greens or romaine over that wedge of iceberg lettuce, which has poor nutritional value and loads of pesticides. Try a spinach salad instead with fresh tomatoes and avocado.
  • I like to skip the standard restaurant starches such as potatoes and rice and just order double veggies. This is also a great time to try the veggies that you don't normally make at home. Kale and brussel sprouts, anyone?
  • You're not being a pain if you sweetly ask how the food is prepared, and ask that it be grilled with all creamy sauces on the side. Don't allow them to "crisp" anything (veggies or meat) because it's just a PC way of saying fried.
  • Want a yummy appetizer? Try that guacamole that the waiter makes at your table, but skip the chips and ask for cut up, raw veggies. You can also do this with a hummus dip.
  • Please send that bread basket away because you don't want to invite the enemy to the table. If others at your table want bread, move it away from you. Don't nibble on the crust because that will lead to eating half the basket. Engage in conversation and vow to just pass on the gluten festival.
  • Now let's say you had a very healthy dinner of a protein, some healthy fat in the olive oil dressing with your salad, and your grilled veggies. Have the mixed berries for dessert as your carb. If you must indulge in a higher caloric dessert, then try my three-bite rule. Have three small bites -- the kind you would eat in front of a queen holding court -- and then put down your fork. Someone at the table will certainly scarf down the rest.
  • Remember to keep the drinking in check. One glass of pinot noir is a healthy drink that's great for your skin. Don't allow the waiter to keep pouring from the bottle at the table. Cut yourself off and then opt for water or sparkling water for the rest of the outing.
Check, please!

next: How to Clean a Drawer (Or NOT)
3 comments so far | Post a comment now
chef-prepared-meals November 20, 2009, 8:03 AM

2009 marks a new era in chef-prepared meals. Gourmet chef prepared foods that is. Any who I have decided to go with the family Thanksgiving feast being ordered from, since they have great reviews. My family will think I made it for them! Ha! I just won’t tell them.

Daphne November 29, 2009, 9:21 PM

Don’t eat out! Take it from a waiter of 20 years…YOU STINK! If you can’t deal with the concept and menu the restaurant has provided then make your own stuff at home! You are a nightmare to waiters!

cheapviagra5019 August 30, 2010, 8:11 AM

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