Sensible Eating in a Tempting World, Part 1

One of Americans’ greatest pleasures is eating out. If you are on a diet to lose weight, or watch your cholesterol, or simply strive for the healthiest choices wherever you eat, here is a guide for dining out and still enjoying the experience.

Some restaurants offer designated meals that are specially labeled as low fat or heart healthy. You may notice a symbol such as a heart, or a ribbon next to certain menu items. The menu may actually state how many fat grams are in the particular dish.

This food may be prepared with less oil and butter and more broth. Low-fat or fat-free cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, salad dressings, and meat selections might be used to cut the fats in the recipe.

However, the menu item might not be low in calories and sodium. Portion control is the key to accuracy for “restaurant labeling.” If your plate is overflowing with food, you may need to be more concerned with the total calories consumed than the fat.

Ask some questions about the light menu:

“How is the meal made low in fat?”
“Was a menu analysis done by computer or lab?”
“How can I be sure it only has 10 grams of fat?”
“Is today?s chef trained in low-fat cooking standards?”
“Does the chef follow a recipe?”
“Are the recipe and preparation standardized?”
With a little bit of information, you can have a wider choice on any menu of meals that fit into your diet budget.

Five Strategies For Restaurant Eating
How often do you eat out? — The more frequently you dine out, the more you need watch your choices and portion sizes. Should you eat out once or twice a month, and you eat carefully otherwise, you might consider this dining event an opportunity to splurge with some delectable food you haven?t had in a while.

Plan ahead — Call the restaurant to find out what is on their menu. Ask about the fresh fish special. Find out if they have a “lite” selection.

Can the chef make simple modifications? Do you carry low fat salad dressing?
Just as you might save up some cash to afford the evening, you might also cut back on your fat or calories for a few days to allow for this larger expenditure. Beware — don?t arrive at the restaurant super hungry — all thoughts of trim eating will vanish once you see that great menu.

Select the most enjoyable dish that is the lowest in fat for your taste. — Fat makes food taste good. Many restaurants can be over-generous with the butter, oil, creamy, cheesy sauces and fried items. Think about the fat in each item in your meal.

Select a soup that is broth or tomato based, not creamy or dripping in melted cheese. Have the salad dressing put on the side — and maybe they have a house light dressing.

Some entrees may be high fat before anything is added — prime rib, duck, sausage, ground meat or cheese ingredients. Avoid foods described as fried, sautéed, crispy, creamy, or breaded. Instead, search the menu for dishes that are steamed, poached, boiled, baked, broiled or grilled.

Speak up — Question the waiter how a particular dish is prepared. You might get more cooperation if you say your doctor wants you to watch your

fat intake. Make special requests. Here are some typical questions:
“Could you leave off the cheese topping?”
“Please remove the bread basket from the table.”
“Could I please have my salad with the dressing on the side?”
“Could you bring my salad while the others have the appetizers?”
“Would it be possible to use less or no oil or butter in the preparation?”
“Can you stir-fry with broth instead of oil?”
“Can I substitute a second portion of vegetables for the French fries?”
“Is butter added to the cooked vegetables?”
“Please don?t bring the fries with my sandwich.”
Watch the portions — Supersizing has become an American standard. The larger the meal, the more we feel we have got our money?s worth.
But do you really eat that much food in one sitting at home? Some single meals in a restaurant can feed a family of four! Here are some strategies to keep the portions in check — the more quantity you eat, the more fat and calories go in.

As you are seated, glance at other diners’ plates to get an idea of how large the dishes and food servings are. Keep this in mind while ordering.

You might be with a friend who would gladly order soup and split a sandwich, or divide an entree.

The appetizers could be served as an entree. Order a la carte, having your hot appetizer served when others receive their entree.
When your food arrives, divide everything in half with your knife. Start eating the first half.

If you are satisfied, take the second half home

for tomorrow night?s dinner.
Ask for the Styrofoam “doggie bag” as soon as you receive your meal. Take half of the food and put it away before you start eating.
Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets. The idea here is truly to eat as much as you can for your money. If most of the selections are low in fat, and you

only fill your plate once, then maybe you are strong enough to handle this temptation.
Don?t eat what you don?t want!

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