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A Guide to Eating Healthfully at Restaurants

September 19th, 2011 Healthy Living

Eating out is more convenient than ever before, especially with chain restaurants and chic diners opening up everywhere. Not only does dining out allow you to avoid having to cook after a long day at work, but you'll have fun and enjoy doing it. The downside is that you can't always control the amount of calories you consume due to varying portion sizes and sneaky ingredients that don't seem significant by themselves but can really rack up your caloric intake. Here are a few tips to avoid overdoing it at restaurants.

1. The simplest way to monitor your intake is to divide your large portions in half and save the rest for later. Just because it's on the plate in front of you doesn't mean you have to eat it right away! Eat as much as it takes to satisfy your hunger, then bring the rest home with you.

2. Going for healthy vegetables over sides like fries or onion rings is a good idea, as long as they don't have any condiments making them fattier. Restaurants often put butter, cheese or oil on their vegetables, which may seem appealing, but can actually mean trouble. Make sure to ask for no toppings if you order something healthy to avoid a higher calorie count.

3. Fried foods are easy to make and delicious, which is why they're featured on many menus. If you're going for a fried item, consider sharing it with someone else or just avoid it altogether. Baked or broiled foods are a lot healthier and can taste just as good.

4. Even if you opt for a seemingly healthy salad bar, it may have hidden dangers if you're not careful. Avoid potato salads or coleslaw, which contain fatty mayonnaise. Also watch out for croutons, bacon bits, cheese and even olives, which can pack a lot of calories.

The main thing to look after is how much of the food you eat and how it was prepared. If you're unsure about something, don't hesitate to ask the waiter about the ingredients.