No one stays home anymore. Where are we? We’re sitting in restaurants. On average, Americans dine out four times a week, according to the National Restaurant Association. As we eat out more and more, the percentage of obese people increases, while their wallets decrease. We spend $1 billion a day dining out.
The Census Bureau’s population clock has the U.S. at 310, 751,194 people, so if we spend some $365 billion a year eating out, that averages out to $1,117 per person per year, a large portion of which could be savings if you ate at home instead.
Regardless of where you eat out, you might be surprised to see just how high the calorie counts on some restaurant meals are. A healthy-sounding chicken fajita omelet at IHOP, for instance, weighs in at 1,360 calories. (According to the Food and Drug Administration, recommended daily calorie intake for adults run from 1,600 to 2,800 calories a day.) So eating that omelet while dining out takes a huge bite out of your recommended calorie intake.
However, with most restaurants these days, you can opt for a healthier option. Here are my suggestions for watching what goes into your body while still enjoying your time out.
Be Salad Savvy while Dining Out
A salad can be your meal’s best friend or worst enemy, depending on how you toss it. Pile on fresh greens, beans and veggies, but don’t drown it with high-fat dressings or toppings like cheese, eggs, bacon or croutons. Pick calorie friendly dressings (vinaigrettes, low-cal dressings, even a generous squeeze of fresh lemon).
Remember, too, that you can gain control over the fat and calories in your salad by ordering the dressing on the side. Measure out a small amount of dressing with your spoon, or with thinker salad dressing, use the fork-dipping method. Dip the tines of your salad fork in the dressing, then spear the leaves of your salad. That way you get a taste of the dressing with each bite of salad.
If you want to be really “good,” carry one of those salad spritzer products in your purse. Order your salad without dressing. Pull out your spritzer and spray your salad. Be aware, though, that this might scare the other patrons, who will think you are sanitizing your salad.
And watch out for potato salads, macaroni salads, cole slaw and even tuna and chicken salads, which usually are heavy in mayonnaise, sugar and calories.
Go Low on Sides: Choose The Healthy Options
Substitute high-cal side dishes with low-fat healthy options such as steamed vegetables, brown rice or fresh fruit. Forget the French fries, and have baked, boiled or roasted potatoes, but leave off the butter, cheese and creams. Flavor with salsa or pepper and chives instead.
Choose Low-Fat Preparation Methods
The way your entrée is prepared influences its calorie and fat content. Chose grilled, broiled or baked meats and entrees. Pan-fried and deep-fried foods give you extra fat you don’t need. Broiling, baking, steaming, poaching and grilling seafood, skinless poultry, lean meat and veggies give you all the flavor without all the fat.
For example, grilled chicken is lower in fat and calories that fried chicken. (If you are served chicken with skin, you can remove the skin to save significant fat and calories.)
It’s not easy to get rid of all fat in restaurant meals, but give it a try. As the server if the butter or oil used to prepare your entree can be reduced or eliminated. Even a grilled item may have extra fat added. For example, some grilled beef dishes call for added oil.
If you really want to lose weight and shed pounds, take the time to learn more about my 17 Day Diet Meal Plan. You’ll learn how to start eating healthy to lose weight safely while dining out as well as create a regular meal plan.
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