June 10, 2015

Eat Out Without the Extra Calories

By Editor

Avoid calorie overload in restaurants.

Summertime is filled with vacation and fun and lots of socializing—which may mean more meals in restaurants and fewer meals at home. But if you want to keep your swimsuit figure, eating out in restaurants is no excuse to load up on calories. A little caution and common sense can keep your calorie count in check without ruining the fun factor. Here’s how.

Don’t rely on a restaurant’s published calorie counts: Many restaurants underestimate the calorie content of their meals and some only provide calorie information for the main course, which can be misleading—you may assume all of those side dishes are included in the final tally. Furthermore, many cooks accidentally deviate from recipes, which can result in a higher calorie count. So, even if the restaurant provides calorie information, stick to your own common sense regarding calories and portion size.

Get hydrated: Drink the water, especially if you’re drinking wine or other alcoholic beverages. Fill up on water when you are seated and then alternate water and wine—drink a full glass of water for each full glass of wine. This will serve to fill you up and also reduce the number of calorie-laden glasses of wine you drink. Staying hydrated in the heat of summer is an added bonus.

Split an entrée: On average, restaurant portions are two to three times as big as an appropriate portion size should be. We often overeat in restaurants because there is more food on our plate and we’re naturally inclined to clean our plates. If you’re counting calories, share an entrée with someone in your group. Alternatively, the group could order “one fewer” and share—meaning if you have a party of six, order five entrees and share them among the group. This is a win for everyone—fewer calories and more options.

Make good choices: Many restaurants offer several preparation options. Choose grilled or steamed over sautéed or fried.

Small plates: Don’t fall into the entrée trap. Consider ordering two small plates or appetizers or soup and salad. Start small and see if you’re satisfied. Remember, you can always order more.

Doggy bag: Resist the urge to join the clean plate club. Stop eating when you’re full or even slightly before that. If you don’t have the willpower for that, ask your server to bring you a box at the beginning of the meal and then immediately cut your meal in half and save the rest for later.

Tags: Nutritional Know-How

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