It feels like the cards are stacked against us when we dine out. Despite our best intentions to be healthy, the calories accumulate quickly between salad and dessert. So the next time you hit up your favorite bistro, refer to these fool-proof steps to prevent you from becoming a casualty of calorie-laden restaurant foods.
Step 1: Pre-game with veggies and tea
Munch on at least one cup of veggie crudités and drink hot tea a half hour before heading to dinner. This mandatory pre-meal takes the edge off hunger so you won’t be ravenous when you arrive at the restaurant. The nutrient-packed veggies will load you up with satiating fiber. In addition to making you feel full, tea contains the amino acid theanine which spurs mental calm as well as alertness, so you can be rationale and order a healthy dinner.
Step 2: Answer ‘no’ to the first question your server asks you
When your server asks: ‘Would you like you something to drink?’ just say no—to alcoholic beverages at least. Alcohol not only packs calories, but it also makes you hungrier and lowers your inhibitions. You’ll swallow extra calories from the alcohol, care less about ordering a healthy meal, and also be more likely to overeat it—a triple threat for your waistline. When you do indulge, save calories by opting for spritzers instead of straight up alcohol, sugary drinks, or mixed drinks, and limit yourself to one drink.
Step 3: Answer ‘no’ to the second question the server asks you
Once your server offers you a drink, she’ll probably ask you if you’d like an appetizer. And trust us: Nothing good has ever come out of devouring a plate of fried calamari, potato skins, or sliders. Most apps have as many calories as the main course. Unless you plan to enjoy a simple green salad with balsamic vinegar or a teaspoon or two of dressing, skip the appetizer. You’ll save hundreds of calories.
Step 4: Don’t be shy
Want to avoid butter or salt? Speak up! Don’t be afraid to ask for your food to be prepared the healthiest way it can. Request that your fish, poultry, or meat be grilled, broiled or steamed instead of fried or sautéed in butter or oil.
Step 5: Order dressings and sauces a la carte
You may slather on hundreds of extra calories with the dressings and you add to your meal, so order them on the side. Instead, dip your fork in the sauce and spread it over your food to control the amount you use.
Step 6: Order extra
You never can have too many veggies, so always order more of ‘em on the side. Request no added oil, butter, or salt, and eat them all before the rest of your meal so have less room for the calorie-laden meal. As an alternative, mix the veggies into your meal. They’ll take on the flavor of your food, but you’ll fill up on them while leaving the heavier stuff for your doggie bag.
Step 7: Eat a pre-planned, calorie-controlled dessert at home
Rather than consuming hundreds of calories with your restaurant dessert, have a small portion of a dessert that you love waiting for you at home. It’s much easier to turn down restaurant desserts knowing that you’re heading home to indulge. Two of our faves: a frozen fudge pop, or a small piece of chocolate.