Tip #21


WHAT DO I DO AT RESTAURANTS? A common problem is what to do in certain eating situations. Here are a few helpful hints to use when you’re trying to enjoy a meal, while staying within your caloric budget.

So what DO you DO…When you're hungry BEFORE you go to the Restaurant? I advise that you don’t leave the house hungry. Feeling ravenous sets you up for a calorie disaster. If you’re hungry, and you know you’re going to a restaurant, have an apple or a few nuts to hold you over to avoid pre-meal munching in the restaurant. This will SAVE you calories in the long run.

What DO you DO…When you SIT DOWN AT THE TABLE? It seems like our senses are elevated at this moment. You smell the food, you see the food on other tables—your stomach begins to call your name. This is the important time for you to make a good decision. The server will usually ask if you want an appetizer. This is where your temptations and questions start to fire off in your mind. Do you, or don’t you? How hungry are you? If you order an appetizer, can you split it with someone else, or is this for you alone? Do you order a decadent choice or a healthy one?

Split decisions. Don't panic. Relax. It’s perfectly fine to order an appetizer before the meal. You have many healthy options.

  • A glass of spicy tomato juice or vegetable drink
  • One piece of bread with a thin slather of butter
  • If the group orders a fried appetizer platter—just peel the batter off of your pieces because most of the fat is in the coating.
  • Soups are an excellent choice for an appetizer. Bean soups or pea soups are high-fiber, so they are very filling, and curb your hunger.
  • Broth-based soups, like minestrone, wonton, beef barley, gazpacho, consommé, or vegetable soup are also wonderful starters to a meal. Avoid cream-based soups like chowder or bisque, which are loaded with fat and calories.

What DO you DO…AT A SALAD BAR? A salad bar can be a dieter’s nirvana, or a place of torment, depending on your discipline, dedication and determination towards your new Lean lifestyle. Try to always stick with the basic staples when you eat at these types of places. Start off with lettuce—the greener, the better. Some great choices are peppers, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, snap peas, raisins, nuts, garbanzo beans, fruit, and other fresh produce. Throw in a few egg pieces for a great source of protein.

Want to save some calories? Bypass the macaroni salad, pasta salad, potato salad, croutons, deviled eggs, grated cheeses, creamy dressings, and bacon.

Lest I remind you, eating “just a little” of 12 different foods turns into “a lot” of food...calories count!

Deliteful Dining:

  • Try ordering the lunch size portions—probably the closest you’re going to get to a proper serving size
  • Share the meal with someone else
  • Order water with lemon
  • Ask for half or smaller portions—don’t worry if it’s not cost effective—it’s worth it
  • Eyeball your appropriate portion, set the rest aside, and ask for a doggie bag right away
  • Use half your normal amount of creamer in your coffee—there are no calories in coffee—it’s in the creamer
  • Eat one slice of bread when making a sandwich instead of two slices. When I go to a restaurant, I incorporate this technique whenever the bread overwhelms my sandwich.
  • Cut your mayo, oil-based salad dressings, and butter in half--these items are 100 % fat.

Dining Disasters

Restaurant dining can be especially tricky for tracking calorie intake. With the appetizer rolls, butter, cocktails, nuts, chips, and salsa, the “meal before the meal” can add an additional 700 calories to your total, sabotaging any effort for healthy dining.

Consider that a light beer carries about 100 calories, and at more than 100 calories an ounce, a few handfuls of nuts can add 500 to 600 more. You’ll do better to skip the pre-meal snacking and ask your server about the size of the portions.

— Jaime Brenkus Health Tip 21