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Making Healthy Choices When Dining Out

Making healthy food choices when you are preparing your own food at home is one thing but it's easy to let your guard down when dining out. You don't have access to nutrition labels and most restaurants use a lot of cheese, butter, oil, sugar, and oversize portions in preparing foods.

But once you decide that you are not going to eat unhealthy food, is it still possible to enjoy a nice meal out? Yes, and all it takes is a little preparation so that you know what to look for on the menu and how you want it prepared. Here are a few good tips for making healthy food choices when dining out.

Remember when you were a kid, your mom would tell you not to snack before dinner because you'll spoil your appetite? But you can actually use this as your secret weapon so you won't eat as much at dinner.

Any small healthy appetizer at home will be a lot lower in calories and fat than an appetizer or the bread basket at the restaurant. Have a piece of fruit, a handful of almonds or a low fat yogurt. If you dine out when you are very hungry you are more likely to order too much of the wrong foods.

Once you are seated at your table, one of the first things a server will ask is what you would like to drink. Water is the best choice or unsweetened green or herbal tea is another healthy alternative where you have control over the sugar content.

Many restaurants bring a bread basket to your table and you should either send the basket back or limit yourself to one slice of bread to enjoy with your meal. Bread can add a lot of additional calories to your meal. If you do decide to have a piece, stick to whole grains instead of white bread.

Next, order a salad or have a bowl of soup because these foods are low in fat, full of vitamins and will help to fill you up. Always ask your server for your salad dressings on the side. Order clear soups instead of cream based soups because clear soups are lower in fat.

Grilled foods or grilled vegetables are healthy choices, but ask that the food be prepared without butter or oil. When you don't have control over the amount of oil and butter, chances are the chef will cook with a lot of it because fat produces a lot of flavor.

Making healthy entrée choices includes lean meats that are baked, grilled, broiled, poached, or steamed. These types of cooking use much less fat in the cooking process. If you order rice, ask for brown rice instead of white. If you order vegetables, you can ask for them to be steamed for a healthy alternative to putting a lot of butter on them.

If you want dessert, look for something like fresh berries or fresh fruit that doesn't have any sweet sauces. Even high end restaurants usually offer a healthy dessert alternative.

You should constantly stay aware of portion sizes because restaurants are famous for big portions. If it helps, have your server wrap up half of your meal so you don't overeat. Remember, you can always order appetizers as a meal along with a salad because they are usually a much better portion size.

When you decide you want a meal away from home it can still be delicious, enjoyable as well as healthy. With some preparation requests to your server and making healthy choices from the menu you can enjoy dining out and still eat healthy meals.

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