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Food/Nutrition Columnist Author: Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN, Food & Nutrition Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Don't Be Afraid To Eat Out -- It Won't Sabotage Your Diet

By Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN, Food & Nutrition Columnist -
Jul 29, 2017 - 10:04:27 AM

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( - Going out to eat? Don’t worry. Just plan. The first thing you need to know is that we eat more when we eat out. Surveys show that when you eat out you eat more calories, more fat and drink more alcohol. Sixty-seven percent of adults finish their restaurant portions most of the time or always, which means you are most likely overeating because the servings are bigger than usual. Men are four times more likely than women to eat their entire entrée, even when the portions are too large. Meals eaten on Saturday have the highest calorie counts.

What does all this mean to you? Simply knowing these facts can alert you to dieting downfalls that you can avoid. There are many simple strategies you can use to enjoy a dinner out without derailing your weight loss success.

Consider a lighter breakfast or lunch to save a few calories for the larger portion or numerous courses you will have tonight. If you are going to a business lunch have a lighter dinner. Add a little more activity today or tomorrow to use up those extra calories. Plus there are lots of thin habits you can use to keep eating out under control.

Avoid Temptations

· Don't select an all-you-can-eat buffet. When people are offered more choices, they eat more. Select a restaurant with an a la carte menu rather than a fixed amount of courses.  That way you can select how many courses you want to eat. There is nothing wrong with skipping a course.

· Take a roll and ask that the bread basket be removed from the table.

· Request no butter for your bread. Many interesting breads can stand alone without a spread.

· Keep the vegetable tray and give back the chips and dip.

Something to drink? Water, thank you.

· Choose calorie-free drinks – water, mineral water, club soda, unsweetened ice tea, flavored sparkling water, and no-calorie soda.

· Choose lower calorie drinks – wine, wine spritzers, fruit juice + club soda.

· If you need a drink refill, ask for water.

Make an appetizer a meal.

· Order an appetizer portion as an entrée. Even if you eat an appetizer and a second one as an entrée chances are you will be eating fewer calories because the servings are smaller.

· Ask if a half portion or luncheon portion is available.

· Start your meal with soup, but steer clear of creamed soups and bisques. Soup takes longer to eat and will add to your sense of fullness and satisfaction.

Play with your food.

· Trim away excess fat.

· Remove skin from poultry.

· Remove all or at least some of the butter and sour cream from a baked potato.

Request on-the-side so you control the amount you eat.

· Butter

· Gravy or sauce

· Salad dressing

· Sour cream

· Syrup

· Guacamole

· Grated cheese

Eat slowly. It takes time for your brain to get the message your body has been fed.

· Enjoy the company. Talk more, eat less

· Enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant.

· Put you fork down occasionally throughout the dinner

· Chew and swallow the food in your mouth before taking another bite.

· Cut your food into smaller pieces and eat them one at a time.

Eat till you feel satisfied not stuffed.

· When dinner is served, if the portion is too large, visually divide the serving in half, eat half, and take the rest home.

· Stop eating when you feel comfortably full. This may be a new sensation that you will need to get used to.

· You don’t have to clean your plate.

· Ask to take uneaten food home. Restaurants are used to this request and will be happy to comply.

Split with a friend.

· Split a large appetizer with someone or even the entire table.

· Share a main dish and order an extra side of vegetables.

· Share dessert with another person or better yet the whole table.

I know it is difficult to change your behavior, but eating should be fun. It should be a recurring pleasure that you get to enjoy. Make thin habits and commonsense portions your allies. 

© NRH Nutrition Consultants, Inc.
Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and the author of 30 books. Available as eBooks from iTunes and Kindle/Amazon:

Diabetes Counter

Calorie Counter

Protein Counter

Healthy Wholefoods Counter

Complete Food Counter

Fat and Cholesterol Counter

Available in print from Gallery Books:

Most Complete Food Counter, 3rd Ed.

Your Complete Food Counter App:

For more information on Jo-Ann and her books, go to:


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