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What's Up Magazine

Eat Out & Eat Healthy

Jul 28, 2011 08:56PM ● By Anonymous

The plan of attack begins before you even step foot in the restaurant. Choose the restaurant wisely—buffets and all-you-can-eat specials will put you on the road to diet disaster. Once you’ve selected the place, head to the Internet to see if you can find a menu with nutrition information. While local establishments are less likely to offer up this information electronically, some chain restaurants have nutrition calculators on their websites, allowing you to mix and match menu combinations to create a healthy meal.

If there’s no nutrition information, pick out clues to figure out what’s healthy and what’s not. Stay away from dishes described as “creamy,” “batter- dipped,” “tempura,” and “smothered,” and instead choose those that are “grilled,” “blackened,” “broiled,” or “poached.” Select a dish and stay firm to your choice. Browsing the menu might have you second-guessing your healthy selection. To temper your appetite, start with a broth-based soup or a garden salad (dressing on the side), and then stay small for your entrée. The biggest diet offender at restaurants are the monstrous portions served; Select an appetizer or two or share an entrée with your dining companion to cut down on calories.

When you order, don’t be afraid to speak up. Most restaurants are used to accommodating people with special dietary needs, so you should feel free to request meals made without butter or oil, with sauce on the side, or with a side salad instead of French fries.

It’s OK to splurge every once in a while, but doing so too often can lead to weight gain. Save the treats for special occasions, and when you dine out, dine smart.

Tips by Cuisine

Sometimes, the type of cuisine you chose to eat plays a part in what you order. Follow these tips to eat out, eat healthy, and eat ethnic:

Chinese: Ask for steamed white or brown rice instead of fried. When ordering entrees, stick to veggie-heavy dishes like chop suey or chicken and broccoli and keep the salt-laden sauces on the side.

Indian: Seafood, chicken, and veggies are always the best option. Avoid dishes made with ghee, or clarified butter. Try Chicken Tikka or Chicken Tandoori.

Italian: Avoid dishes made with cheese or cream sauces or proteins that have been breaded and fried. Order Pasta Primavera or Pasta with Marsala or Marinara sauce. If you must order wine, stick to one 4-ounce glass.

Japanese: Stick with low-sodium soy sauce for your sushi and avoid anything that says “tempura,” which means it has been fried.

Mexican: Dine on dishes made with grilled chicken, shrimp, or fish, and top it with salsa or pico de gallo. Order chicken or shrimp fajitas or soft tacos.

Steakhouses: Steakhouses love to serve huge slabs of meat dripping with butter. Select, at maximum, a 6-ounce cut of lean beef such as filet mignon or sirloin, and pair it with a green salad and baked potato—but don’t load it up with cheese, sour cream, or butter.

Thai: Coconut curry dishes are high in calories. Instead order pad thai or chicken satay.