Healthy Alternatives When Dining Out

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When dining out, there are several strategies you can use to keep from overeating, or consuming too many fat- or sugar-ladened calories.

For starters, avoid cream-based soups and opt for lighter-calorie varieties such as broth-based vegetable, chicken, or won-ton, or a cold-based soup like gazpacho. Salads are a great way to eat lightly, and enjoy vegetables in their raw state. Just have the server put the dressing in a ramekin on-the-side. Eschew creamy dressings like Ranch, Caesar, French, and Thousand Island. Go with vinaigrette or oil and vinegar.

Pick entrees containing vegetables like broccoli, green beans, spinach, carrots. Avoid items like Mac and Cheese, Fettuccini al Fredo, and Spaghetti Carbonara, all made with rich cheeses and fatty bacon. Stay away from deep-fried or sautéed foods: calamari, shrimp, and prawns. Instead choose steamed, grilled, or broiled menu items.

Do not stand in the buffet line. You will load up your plate with more than you need, and unwisely pick high-fat foods. Instead pick your food item from the menu.

To avoid overeating at restaurants serving super-sized portions, try appetizer versions of the item. A custom has patrons share an entrée with a dining partner. And don't forget about the doggie bag. Refrain from the children-in-China-are-starving-syndrome we all heard growing up, and stop eating when you're beginning to feel full.

A couple of more caveats: hold the butter, or use sparingly on your meal or that sourdough roll. And finally, bypass highly-sugared desserts for simple fruit desserts.

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