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NIRERIN Posts: 14,274
8/18/13 9:43 A

i'm another vote for go infrequently to a local place and get what you want.
figure that if you have 1 4000 cal dinner once a year you only need to eat 11 cals less per day to balance that out. if you want to eat out to the tune of 4000 cals a month, that's 133 cals a day assuming the month has 30 days. so if your ranges were 1200-1550, sticking to 1200-1367 for the month would allow you to eat out for a 4000 cal meal. and that's 4000 cals above and beyond your ranges for the day. if you wanted to do only 2000 cals above once a month that's only 67 cals a day or sticking to 1200-1434 the rest of the month.
the more infrequently you do something, the more leeway you have to just do what you want. if you want to eat out more frequently then you really do have to pay attention to portion sizes, cooking methods, how much you're drinking and everything else.
when i go out, i eat only half my entree. like another poster, this gives me a good source for approximating how many calories it comes in at. also, figure that most entrees are going to run you somewhere in the 750-2000 cal range. if you only eat half of that, that brings you down to 375-1000 cals for the entree. very few restaurants actually give you proper portions of food so that one plate generally holds at least two servings of everything. and the higher calorie counts like you find at places like cheesecake factory [where you tend to find the 2000 cals a plate numbers] tend to be more like four portions of food. so if you only eat half, you're not eating three servings of potatoes at once, which makes the whole eating out thing more reasonable. plus, if you're sticking away from the plates that feed families of four [chinese food and cheesecake factory], you're really topping out around 1500 cals a plate. so if you eat half, that's 750 for your entree. now figure if you're eating 1200-1550 cals and set to lose a pound a week, that means you'd maintain at 1700-2050 cals. and your loss ranges would be breaking down to 300 for breakfast, 300 for lunch, and 600 for dinner. so that 750 for one meal isn't that far off from where you want to be. and figuring in the 500 cals for skipping your deficit and you can make that kind of meal work. you'll lose more slowly, especially if you are eating the second half of the meal the next day, drinking, getting an appetizer or dessert. but if you like eating out that's a way to make it work. and you might consider limiting the meals you do eat out. if you want to do the chef ten course tasting, you should probably try and limit that to once a year. if you want to go out every week or every other week, perhaps try to stick to half you entree and have drinks or share an appetizer or have dessert. if you can limit to once a month or less, then try having an entree and 2/3: shared appetizer, dessert, or drinks.
i also find that going to higher end places gets you closer to actual portion sizes of food. the heftier price tags also help limit how often i go.

HEALTHYJ29 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 1,307
8/18/13 4:54 A

At most restaurants you can get items prepared plain without oil or butter. So if you pick fish have it broiled with no butter or oil. If it is in a heavy sauce ask for it plain or on the side. Try to pick a side dish such as baked potato plain, steamed veggies with no oil, salad with dressing on the side. For sandwiches again watch the toppings and if it is on a bun ask for it not to be grilled with butter. Another issue with restaurants are portion sizes. Sometimes at restaurants they will serve 2 chicken breasts when in realty one is the portion size one should eat

BUBBLEJ1 Posts: 2,981
8/18/13 1:49 A

I like ordering a side salad and a non fried appetizer. Main meals at restaurants tend to be too big and not have much in the way of veggies.

SATTUA Posts: 557
8/17/13 9:52 P

Surprising as it sounds, I have the easiest time at Red Lobster. Tell them NOT to bring the cheddar biscuits! Then I have some kind of seafood that isn't fried or covered in sauce--plain grilled shrimp or lobster is good. I have salad and steamed vegetables and a plain baked potato with it. They coat their baked potatoes in salt so they're plenty tasty without butter or sour cream.

STDWYNWEN SparkPoints: (11,748)
Fitness Minutes: (4,601)
Posts: 577
8/17/13 7:33 P


When I do go out it's usually to a local diner I like.

Many times I'll just get a mushroom/swiss omelet (half the cheese), substitute tomato slices for the hash browns and wheat toast.

And sometimes I just get eggs and toast.

BITTERQUILL Posts: 1,639
8/17/13 6:17 P

I completely agree with ICEDMETER's recommendations for "real" restaurants. Even though they are less likely to have nutrition facts available, they tend to have better food and offer a more interesting overall experience.

Special meals, for me, are infrequent enough that indulging a little won't throw me off track. At least not much. For genuine special occasions (a couple times a year) we like to go out for sushi. It can be pretty healthy or absolutely terrible for you depending on your portions and choices, but I usually manage to keep things under control. Except for the sodium, because I love soy sauce and miso soup, and I usually get a mochi ice cream for dessert. Because it's special. :P

We also have a local Nepali restaurant that is *to die for.* When I'm going there, I let myself indulge a little. I try to watch my portions so I don't eat to the point of bursting, but I don't stress if I want something a little more caloric than I would usually have. That place is a rare treat, like an every-other-year sort of treat, so I enjoy it and don't let calories drive me to unnecessary fretting.

We do pizza considerably more often, about every six weeks (and there are usually leftovers for a day or two). That's less of a "special meal" for me and more of a "ugh, I so don't want to cook" sort of thing. Since we do it so much more often, I have to be more careful about my intake. I live in a strange parallel universe where pizza apparently has no volume, so it's really easy for me to over-eat it (seriously, even at 110lbs it was not at all difficult for me to eat *half of a family size pizza by myself*). I try to temper that by eating a big salad first, and limiting my number of slices to two (one if they are bigger, three if they are very small). I prefer red sauces over white, too, which helps with the overall calorie count.

As backwards as it might sound, I usually have good luck with buffets (especially if they have a good soup/salad bar), as long as I didn't skip lunch or something silly that day. We go to them pretty infrequently, and my favorite in the area is not a chain so their nutrition facts aren't available anywhere. Which is where the salad bar comes in (because veggies are veggies no matter who chopped them).

In the extremely uncommon event that we hit a drive-through, I just stick with smaller portions (kids' meals, whoop!) or check nutrition facts on my phone beforehand so I can pick out something that won't totally mess up my ranges for the day. Most chains have their info readily available online.

We eat restaurant food less than once a month, all said and done. Sometimes we do it a couple weeks in a row, and sometimes we go a few months in between. Considering the frequency at which I ate out when I was in college, it's a *lot* less common than it used to be, and since it's not a common occurrence it's less apt to mess with my averages. You're doing yourself a great favor cutting back.

Edited by: BITTERQUILL at: 8/17/2013 (18:28)
ICEDEMETER Posts: 1,332
8/17/13 2:00 P

I don't end up doing the "grab and go" thing very often these days, since I find that I can generally put together something that's tastier, healthier, and cheaper to bring with me. If I have to grab something while I'm out, I'll head to a grocery store and pick up yogurt, veggies, and either some sashimi or roasted chicken (I don't like the skin, so tear it off) for a quick meal.

I do, however, still love going out to restaurants for special meals. Even though there won't be nutritional information available, I recommend going to single-location, local restaurants which have an actual chef. I've found that the best ones tend to use local, fresh ingredients and serve more reasonable portions. I love taking the ideas that I get for seasonings, sauces, and combinations that I get from these places and adapting them for home!

Since it's a "special" meal, I always go for something that I don't make at home. For me, this generally means veal or lamb or seafood (scallops, crab, or lobster). I choose what appeals to me on the menu, looking for something with the meat as grilled, roasted, or steamed (not breaded), and ask for the sauce served on the side, so that I can control how much I have. I skip having a "starch" (pasta, rice, or potato) and ask for extra veggies instead.

I've found that most of the specialty restaurants (Thai, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Morrocan, etc.) have a lot of fabulous veggie based dishes that I really enjoy. I tend to go for these, and either skip the meat or order it as a separate side.

Regardless of where we go, I put half of the meal aside to take home, where I can weigh it out and do a pretty good guesstimate of the nutritional values for my tracker.

We have a lot of fun seeking out the "best" local chefs, and they honestly make it really easy to choose healthy options since they prefer to use fresh, whole ingredients.

Good luck, and remember to have fun with it --- that's what "special" meals are all about!

MLAN613 Posts: 18,814
8/17/13 10:02 A

I know many restaurants share their nutritional information online. If you have a favorite place, check to see if they do. If no nutritional info is available, maybe the menu is at least online. Sometimes, planning your choices ahead can help mitigate damage to you calorie range.

Also, some restaurants have reasonable calorie meals readily available. I know of three off the top of my head: Red Lobster, Applebee's, and Ruby Tuesday. Worst case scenario, you can always get a box and divide up the meal to save for later.

MILKYWAY515 Posts: 113
8/17/13 9:54 A

I am attempting to eat out less, and enjoy eating out more by making healthy choices. Seems eating out has become grab and go while I hurry through my day. I know this will help us save money and also I will be making healthier food choices. Any ideas on where we can go to have a special meal yet still make it a healthy choice?

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