1. Plan ahead. Many restaurants now post their menus online, as well as their nutritional information. Even if they don’t have nutritional information, you can take note of the dishes you’re interested in and plan your caloric intake around them. The key is to watch out for portion size, because you won’t likely know until you arrive at the restaurant how big their portions are.
2. ONLY eat half of your meal. One way to address the portion issue is to ask if the waiter can bag half of your meal before they even bring your meal out to you.
3. Know high fat lingo. There are a few words and phrases you should watch out for on any menu that indicate the fat content is going to be significant. They include “breaded,” “battered,” “with gravy,” “au gratin,” “cream sauce,” “buttered” and more.
4. Know how to have your meat cooked. One of the keys of weight loss is sticking with the right preparation types. Poultry, for example, should be skinless if possible, and it should be steamed, broiled, grilled, baked, boiled, poached or even roasted. It should definitely not be fried. Red meat is fine a couple of times a week, as well, just watch out for portion control and try to order more lean cuts as opposed to fattier cuts.
5. Go easy on the sauce. The most important tip when eating out is to order sauces, dressings and condiments on the side. This can save hundreds of calories. Be careful not to dump the entire side of sauce onto your meal and use only one to two small spoonfuls for your meal.
*Written by: Karen Willy, Dietetic Intern, Purdue University