1. Choose the restaurant wisely.
Consider your health goals as you plan where you want to eat. Some restaurants are more willing to accomodate special requests than others. To avoid overeating, curb your appetite with a piece of fruit or a large glass or water before you go.
2. Develop a game plan.
Have in mind what you plan to order before arriving at the restaurant. You may even decide not to open up the menu so that the double-decker burger and fries or the oil-drenched plate of pasta does not tempt you. If you do take a peek at the menu, look only at what you really want to eat, like the fresh salads, not the heavy dinner entrees or rich desserts.
3. Ask for what you want.
Find out how foods are prepared, then ask for adjustments. Request sauces and dressings on the side, less oil or butter in preparation, etc. Substitute fat-free salad dressing or salsa for sour cream and butter on your baked potato.
4. Size up the portion sizes.
Many restaurants serve very large portions. Ask for a half-portion or lunch-size meal, or split an entree with your companion. Check out low-fat appetizer options as a possible meal. Get comfortable with leaving food on your plate. Ask for the server's help in having your plate taken away from the table or put a napkin over your food when feeling full so you won't continue to be tempted.
5. Become fluent in menu-ese.
Choose menu items that are baked, grilled, blackened, broiled, roasted or steamed. Let your server know that you're on a healthy track.
6. Watch the pre-meal warm-up.
Move the complimentary basket of chips and dip away from where you're sitting. Instead of spreading butter on your bread or dipping it in olive oil, enjoy it plain. Use a light hand at the salad bar pick primarily fresh veggies versus the higher-fat accessory items such as marinated or mayonnaise-based salads, cheeses, bacon flavor bits, chopped eggs and olives.
7. Decide on dessert.
Fresh fruit is always a good bet when you want a sweet finish to your meal. If the fruit is dressed in a decadent sauce, ask for the topping on the side so you can drizzle on a delicious taste. Sorbet and frozen yogurt are other low-fat dessert winners. If you're craving something rich and creamy, how about a cappuccino or latte made with fat-free (skim) milk and a sprinkle of chocolate?
8. Take it home.
Leftovers are a good thing. Start out by asking your server to box up half of whatever you're about to order. Or when your plate arrives, split it in half before you dig in.
From "Betty Crocker's Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cooking Today." Text Copyright 2005 General Mills, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Wiley Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This -TIPS FOR DINING OUT recipe is from the Betty Crocker's Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cooking Today Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.
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