Most Americans eat out at least occasionally, if not more often. Restaurants can pose a problem because they are looked at as “special” occasions for which you do not want to make healthy food choices. Fortunately, though, restaurants are more accommodating than ever before. A survey by the National Restaurant Association found that nearly 90 percent of table service restaurants will alter food preparations on request. And fast-food restaurants have recently made changes and added new items to accommodate the health- and diet-conscious person.
Healthy selections by course:
Ice water or club soda
Coffee or tea without cream and sugar
Limit yourself to one alcoholic beverage
Ask for dressing on the side
Avoid high-calorie ingredients such as croutons, bacon, cheese and avocado
Use vinegar and lemon juice as a dressing
Ask for spreads on the side
Use mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, and toasted bread to improve taste without adding calories
Choose lower-calorie fillings such as lean beef, chicken, turkey and tuna (unless high in mayonnaise)
Broiled, roasted or baked low-fat meats such as seafood, chicken, skinless turkey, veal, London broil or beef tenderloin
Ask that meats be cooked without butter
Plain vegetables, without sauces
Avoid sour cream and butter
Choose fresh fruit without cream
Pay special attention to descriptions on restaurant menus. They are appealing, but certain ingredients may mean they are high in fat.
The most dangerous restaurant feature for many dieters is the buffet or loaded salad bar. If the buffet is ordered, careful planning is needed to choose a meal that will provide nutritional balance without excess calories. Don’t let the endless buffet be an opportunity to overindulge. Put small portions on your plate and don’t go back multiple times to load up on more food. Savor what’s on your plate and eat slowly. Remember, you don’t have to eat everything on your plate. Walk away from those last few bites knowing you are sufficiently full and you don’t need the extra remaining calories.