Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dining Out Wisely

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This morning, I want to give you the meeting summary from my Weight Watchers meeting on Saturday, February 18, 2012.

The average person dines out 4.2 times a week!
Use these great tips to help you do so and still stay on plan and in control!

Dining Out Dos and Don’ts
Simple strategies and tools to help you make wise choices.
Article By: Leslie Fink, MS, RD

Some people trying to lose weight steer clear of restaurants to avoid the large portion sizes, bottomless bread baskets and all those high-calorie entrées. But shunning restaurants altogether isn't a realistic approach to weight loss — and it's unnecessary. You can eat out and lose weight. When possible, it's best to plan ahead and account for the occasion. But even eating on the go doesn't have to derail your day. Use these 10 tips to navigate the menus at sit-down restaurants and fast-food joints.

1. Set a budget
Determine how much you're willing to eat before looking at the menu. Remember, you can save your weekly PointsPlus® Allowance for indulgences. For even more flexibility, you can earn activity PointsPlus values that can be swapped for food. And as long as you eat carefully most of the time, you can loosen up a bit on special occasions. (Just don't let every day become a special occasion).

2. Put on your game face
Decide on some guidelines before you go to a restaurant, and stick to them. For instance:
• Skip the all-inclusive (prix fixe) menu and opt for à la carte selections.
• Take one piece of bread, then ask your server to remove the basket from the table.

3. Make special requests
You're paying good money for that meal, so you're entitled to make special requests or slight modifications. Why not say:
• Can I have that without butter? Grilled? With the sauce on the side?
• I'd like mixed greens instead of fries with my sandwich.

4. Practice portion control
Some restaurant portions can be two, three, even four times the "normal" size — especially super-sized fast food meals. Keep your portions in check by:
• Ordering a salad as a starter and then splitting a main entrée with a friend.
• Creating your own scaled-down meal from a couple of appetizers and/or side dishes.
• Ask for the waiter to go ahead and put half of your meal in a to go box before you get your meal. That way what is on your plate is what you get, you can clean the whole thing and still make another meal out of it too!

5. Break down (language) barriers
If you don't know what a preparation term means, ask. In general, though, the following words translate into high-fat, high-calorie dishes:
• Au gratin, scalloped, hollandaise.
• Parmigiana, scampi, Bolognese.

6. Downsize the super-size
Super-sized fast food meal options can be loaded with calories. Either:
• Order something small, like a basic burger. After all, the first bite tastes the same as the last.
• Order yourself a children's meal.

7. Watch out for extras
The average burger with ketchup, lettuce and tomato isn't so bad. But one with "the works" is usually a caloric nightmare. Skip:
• Bacon, cheese and mayonnaise.
• Double-burger patties and extra pieces of bread.

8. Don't go top heavy
Salad bars and garden salads grace menus across the country. But those extra toppings can sabotage your seemingly diet-conscious choices:
• Go light on croutons, grated cheese and bacon.
• Opt for small amounts of low-fat or nonfat dressings on the side.

9. Don't drink away your progress
A drink with dinner is fine, but too many sugary margaritas may wreak havoc on your PointsPlus budget — and your resolve. Keep your appetite under control by:
• Alternating alcoholic beverages with noncaloric sodas or sparkling water.
• Not drinking alcoholic beverages on an empty stomach.

10. Resign from the "clean plate club"
You paid for it so you have to eat it all now, right? Wrong. Downsize by:
• Enjoying half the meal and doggie-bagging the rest.
• Pushing your plate away when you're full.
• Eating slowly. Remember, it takes 20 minutes for your body to recognize that it's full

2 comments:

Mrs.B said...

Great tips. I was just thinking about this...my aunt wants us to go out to eat. This losing weight is NOT easy for me.

-J.Darling said...

Great tips! The only one I would edit is this one: "Creating your own scaled-down meal from a couple of appetizers and/or side dishes." Appetizers are almost ALWAYS sized to split between 4 people for a "normal" portion size. Stick to side dishes.

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