9 secrets to eating well at a restaurant

Everyone enjoys eating out and when you do, you want to be sure you're not only getting the delicious, healthy meal you desire but the one you are paying money for, too. These tips guarantee you'll be satisfied on both accounts..

9 secrets to eating well at a restaurant

1. Speak up.

Assert yourself by requesting changes to what's on the menu. Ask for a smaller portion of the meat and a larger portion of the salad. Assume you can have the food prepared the way you want it. Most often, the restaurant will be happy to cooperate.

2. Ask for more.

Often a side order of vegetables in a restaurant is just a garnish. If that's the case where you're eating, ask for a larger-than-normal serving of veggies — and offer to pay extra. It's a good way to get full, not fat.

3. How's that prepared?

Ask. Don't go by the menu. Cholesterol-free does not mean fat-free; the dish could still be loaded with calorie-dense oil. Neither does "light" necessarily mean no calories or fat.

4. Double up on starters.

Consider having two starters for your meal. Look around to see what other portion sizes look like — two starters may be more than enough, and it will save you money.

5. Order first.

People are influenced by others' choices when they eat out. If you order first, you won't be tempted by less healthy options on the menu.

6. Order a big salad.

Volunteers who ate a big salad packed with vegetables before the main course ate fewer calories overall than those who skipped a first-course salad.

7. Keep that salad healthy.

It's a vegetable course. Avoiding creamy dressings and bacon bits. Choose raw vegetables, well-drained marinated vegetables, and add some fruit or nuts for variety.

8. Watch extras.

A Caesar salad comes with lots of cheese and mayo, fried croutons, and it can contain more than 500 calories. Italian antipasto salads are also a health challenge. Get the salad, but ask for vegetables only.

9. Do the fork dip.

Get your dressing on the side, in a small bowl. Dip your empty fork into the dressing, then skewer a forkful of salad. You'll be surprised how good this tastes, and how little dressing you'll use.

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