How to stick to your diet when dining out

Being on a diet doesn't mean you can't enjoy a meal out. These four tips will help ensure that your restaurant meal is both satisfying and diet-friendly.

How to stick to your diet when dining out

While dieting does restrict your food choices, it does not prevent you from eating at restaurants.

In fact, it's easy to find healthy, nutritious menu items at most restaurants while still sticking to a diet plan.

1. Order first

Scan the menu to find the items that fit within your nutritional plans, then be sure that you're the first at the table to order.

Experts recommend ordering first in order to stick to your health plans, because people are more likely to break their diets when someone else orders unhealthy food first.

Inform your dining companions of your plan before you go, so they will know that you'll be first in line to order when the waiter comes.

2. Start with soup or salad

In order to help control your caloric intake at a restaurant, order soup or salad first. Soups and salads tend to be filling, dense foods that pack in very little calories.

  • Choose a salad that doesn't have fattening items like cheese or bacon, and make sure to choose a soup that is not cream based.
  • Experts believe that if you eat a salad or soup first, you're more likely to eat a smaller amount of your entree, which is likely higher in calories than your starter course.

3. Get the sauce on the side

If you're ordering something like a salad or a sandwich, ask for any dressing or sauce to be served on the side of the meal.

Often, a meal's main calories are contained in its sauce or dressing, since sauces and dressings are usually made with cream, corn syrup and other calorie-rich ingredients.

If you get the sauce on the side, use your fork to dip into the sauce and then spear your food. This way, you'll only get a fraction of the calories.

4. Eat half of your entree

If you're ordering an entree-size portion for your meal, ask for a doggy bag and box alongside your entree. This way, you can cut your meal in half and box up the other half to take home before you even start eating.

This is a psychological trick to help ensure that you don't overindulge, since it's harder to stop eating once you've already started. Also, boxing up half your entree is a good way to save money, since you can eat it for lunch the next day.

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