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Dine Smart When Dining Out
It is estimated that close to half of all American adults eat out at least once a day. So it is important that you know what goes into the meal you have just ordered and how to make healthy food choices. Whether you're being wined and dined or having a quick bite out, keep in mind the following when dining away from home.
  1. Ask for salad dressing or sauces to be served on the side. That way you can control how much you want on your food, instead of having excess amounts on that you don't want.

  2. Don't starve yourself all day if you are going out to a nice dinner in the evening. You will be too hungry to eat with control. Have a light breakfast and lunch and have a small snack 1-2 hours before going. Make a special effort to avoid foods high in fats during the day because your restaurant meal might not be particularly low in fat.

  3. When ordering pasta dishes, look for tomato-based sauces rather than cream-based sauces. Tomato -based sauces are much lower in fat and calories. In addition, the tomato sauce (or marinara sauce) can count as a vegetable!.

  4. Avoid cream-based soups as they are higher in fat and calories. Other broth-based soups are a good choice as they are generally lower in calories and help to fill you up.

  5. Look for items that are roasted, grilled, steamed, boiled, stewed or poached. These items are prepared without excess fat.

  6. If it is not clear from the menu, ask how the food is prepared. Guesswork can result in extra calorie and fat intake when the food arrives fried, breaded, covered in rich sauces, dressings or oils when you are not expecting it.

  7. Enjoy a baked potato, with toppings if you like, but go easy on the butter, sour cream & bacon bits. Try some salsa on your baked potato for a lower calorie topping.

  8. Share a dessert or an appetizer with a friend. Half the portion equals half the calories.

  9. Order a salad as it will help fill you up and add 35% more dietary fiber to the meal.

  10. Stop eating when you are full listen to the cues your body gives you even if there is food left on your plate. Ask for a takeaway box if you do not like to waste the food - you can have it for lunch the next day.

  11. If you have a high fat or high calorie item, balance it off with lower fat/calorie items the rest of the day.
Check out the Restaurant Guide to help you make informed choices about the calorie and nutrient levels of various types of restaurant foods. Also take a look at Fast Food Facts for items served some of the fast food outlets.

With a little planning, dining out does not have to blow your diet. In fact, it can be a pleasurable experience as more places are offering healthy choices on their menus.

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