Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dining out with Success

Eating at restaurants, while quite enjoyable, can cause headaches for those attempting to watch their waistline as ordering can be a daunting task. The following represents a simple, informal guide to help you pick and choose what to consider when dining out. Remember to not let the ordering process overwhelm you. Keep the portions within reason, choose lean protein sources, avoid/limit saturated fat intake, and take the time to enjoy your meal.

Skim milk
Water with fresh lemon slice (lemon can make a world of difference- try it!)
Red wine (1-2 glasses)

Salads are the healthiest options here; their fiber content will help prevent you from overeating when your meal comes.
The salad should have as much color as possible with various veggies incorporated
Top choices for dressings include oil and vinegar and balsamic vinaigrette

Seek the leanest sources of protein available (fish, chicken turkey); vegetarian sources of protein include beans, nuts, and soy products. Quinoa (pronounced “KEEN-WAH”) is a 2nd complete protein, beyond soy products, that is plant-based.
If red meat is what you desire, look for the term “loin” as it suggests a leaner cut.

If you must order it, consider fresh fruit if available. If it’s not, dessert typically isn’t worth getting at all. Worst case scenario I’d look for sugar free Jell-o or sorbet. Ideally, I’d recommend saving your money, digest your sensibly-portioned meal and as a small snack to satisfy that sweet tooth craving, top a sliced banana with a scoop of raspberry sorbet and drizzle with a small amount of crushed nuts as your protein source. It’s low in calories and doesn’t come with a side of guilt, unlike cheesecake and ice cream!

*General Guidelines*
Going out to a restaurant can stir some emotions (anxiety, nervousness, etc…) that can cause you to make some poor nutritional choices. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to have a “plan of attack” going in. Specifically, recall what choices “nutritionally outweigh” others (see above). Allow me to specify with the following:
Online Menu Review- Admittedly this is my favorite one and is the one I do 99% of the time…most establishments have their menus uploaded online. Take the time in the comfort of your home to scan the menu and settle on a choice or two you know are nutritionally sound. That way, you don’t feel rushed when you are about to order. Believe me, it’ll be comforting knowing you’ve made a healthy decision.
Look for words like “Grilled, baked, and broiled.”
Avoid words like “Fried and creamed.”

Online Resources (valuable info. can be found at the following sites):

*Educate yourself beforehand, go in with a plan of attack, and enjoy your meal*

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