Tuesday, January 23rd

Is eating out your diet downfall? Getting together with friends is fun, but a tempting menu can quickly derail your weight loss efforts. It helps to follow a few simple restaurant rules to stay on the calorie track. First, choose a restaurant that offers healthier fare. Japanese, Thai and other Asian cuisines are usually vegetable-based with little saturated fat in the other ingredients. Greek and Spanish restaurants serve foods from the healthy Mediterranean diet, so you’ll likely be able to choose from fish, grilled lean meats and salads.

If your willpower fades the second you face a menu, decide what to order before you set foot in the restaurant. If its menu isn’t online, call ahead and ask for recommendations by phone. Remember that restaurants want to accommodate you.
When you’re trying a new cuisine and want to sample unique dishes, make it your goal to limit calories. Never go ravenous, or you’ll be tempted to fill up on bread. Try ordering two small appetizers instead of an appetizer and an entree, and split just one dessert with everyone at the table — all you need is a taste to appreciate it.

If eating out is a spur-of-the-moment decision with no time for pre-planning, choose dishes that emphasize lean meat and fresh vegetables and that are steamed, broiled, baked or lightly sautéed. Avoid anything that’s described as breaded, fried or smothered with gravy, butter, cream or cheese sauce — the calories and fat are too hard to control.

Carefully consider your drink. Choose water, fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, and other drinks without added sugars to complement your meal. Avoid sodas altogether, they are high in sugar and sodium.

Quit the “clean your plate” club. Decide to save some food for another meal. Take leftovers home in a container and chill in the refrigerator right away. And if you do happen to overindulge, simply get back to all your good habits at the very next meal.

By Karl Strom, M.D., FACS

For more information attend a free seminar, which will be held on Nov.30, 6:00 p.m., at Raritan Bay Medical Center, 530 New Brunswick Ave., Perth Amboy, NJ.

“Registration required, call  1-800-DOCTORS.”