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Beating Restaurants at Their Own Game!

Over a Dozen Dining Out Tips


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  • Good advice. Decide what you want most on the menu, then cut back on the rest of the meal to allow yourself to enjoy it. If you are really wanting pie and ice cream, consider going out for just pie and ice cream with that cup of coffee. You'll have to make room in your diet for those calories that day, but it might be really worth it now and then. Best to not let yourself feel deprived.
  • Wonderful article, and very timely for me, as I am heading to Walt Disney World in three weeks time, and we have the free meal plan which includes a restaurant and quick service meal each day. I am determined not to gain while I'm down there. I will be following the advice given here. That, plus the fitness center at our resort hotel, and all the walking we will be doing, will hopefully keep me right on track!
  • good, common sense advice. Learned the hard way today when I went out for lunch to fish +chip shop (I'm from UK) and as very hungry ordered medium cod, chips, mushy peas and bread and butter instead of the usual modest small meal I occaisionally have. Result- indigestion!!!!! and a run to the nearest chemist shop to buy ant -acid. Moral- don't be greedy!!!!
  • Some great tips, both by the author and in some of the comments. Although I check out the nutritional info on the menu when available, I find that almost all restaurants serve 2-3 times the proper portions on the plate. So, I always ask for a "to-go" container when the meal is delivered and immediately put all but a reasonable portion in the container. I have learned pretty well how much a proper portion of almost any food looks like, but I use the "palm of your hand" as a measurement--no portions of anything that wouldn't fit in the palm of my hand--if I am unsure. If I'm going home after eating, I take the container with me and have left-overs for another meal or two; if not, I simply leave the container on the table and let them throw it away. At least the food is not on my plate to tempt me to eat more and or tempt me to "graze" after eating a proper amount. I always choose water (with lemon) as my beverage--healthier and actually cheaper since they don't charge for the water.
  • Sounds funny to put donn't go out to eat when your hungry...... um isn't that the only time you SHOULD EAT!
    My husband and I check out mens online top help us decide in advance what we want/can afford nutritionally and calorically. It really helps.
  • If my meal is a large order, I automatically eat half of the meal and the rest is either dinner or lunch the next day. It's automatic, because every since I've been taking in less calories the inside of my stomach seemed to have shrunk. I can't eat as much as I did. So basically, my stomach likes to cut me off, even though my brain is telling me I can still eat the rest of the stuff on my plate. Don't get me wrong this doesn't work all the time, but when it does I get so proud of myself. :)
  • I usually eat out every day. I have lost 50# in 10 mths. It is all about choices and portion control. I eat breakfast at McD's twice a week with my husband after we lap swim. 1 egg Mcmuffin without cheese and a huge glass of water less than 300 cal. I like to avoid buffets but we often eat at a club that has good choices. I load up on a huge spinach salad with crispy veggies and a drizzle of olive oil. Avoiding fried foods , bread and pasta really is the key. When I HAVE to have a potato I may eat 10 french fries. or a baked sweet potato. Eating out while "dieting" used to cause me such stress. Well, i don't diet anymore I changed changed the way that I think and live. I feel free to eat where ever I want to.
  • I rarely eat out anymore. The sodium content is too high in most meals and takes away the enjoyment of the food. If I do eat out I plan ahead. Many restaurants have their menus on-line and this helps in the decision making.
  • It's all about the choices we make. Thank you for the article.
  • I don't go to restaurants anymore. Not only are they filthy places, most of their food is pre-made. You can ask for "no butter", "no oil" until the cows come home, but you just get what they have. They lie! I'd rather be safe than sorry and just eat at home.
  • If I order a sandwich or some type of burger I always remove the top bun or piece of bread. That automatically cuts the carbs in half and usually takes some high fat spread along with it!
    If I know where I'm going out to eat, I review the menu online ahead of time. Then I choose what I'll order and add it to my Sparkpeople Nutrition Counter. It keeps me on track and away from spontaneous missteps.
    Great recommendations! Thanks. For some reason, when eating out for a special meal, I have trouble choosing items labeled "light", etc. Just takes the joy right out of it, often the meal choices look like something I cook at home, however, I'm learning that the mid-grade chains and better restaurants are often more than willing to let me make modifications to a dish I love, and often the server has light(er) suggestions. I often don't want the empty carb rice, and for a small additional cost, I can get extra fresh veggies instead. I also regularly ask that cheese be left off. It's good to ask about cheese, because it's often an overlooked add-on, but can be hard to remove later. I also now have 2 categories of eating out: special occasion in which I can indulge, and eating out in the course of the day/week. I'm rigid now about what I choose and don't allow "breakdowns" when I just happen to have to eat out. Eating out is a fact of life for most of us now, so learning some discipline is necessary if you ever hope to get and keep a waistline and stay healthy.

    Again, Spark, thanks for inspiring me to make healthy choices one more day. Was feeling weak today. :)
  • I have gone to 2 restaurants recently that gave you a choice for size of your meal..small or large. I loved that. The waiter at one, Carabbas, said "Don't you want to pay a little more and take home leftovers"..No..No that's not what I want at all. I loved being able to eat my meal without feeling bloated...made me a much happier diner.

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