4 Ways to Dine Out Without Damaging Your Diet

Let's face it. Dining out is wonderful. A server is there to cater to your every whim. You're provided with a delicious meal with all the upside and none of the work.

What's more, you're given options: healthy and otherwise. Do you opt for the grilled chicken with asparagus and winter squash mash? Or do you go with the risotto cakes and polenta? While you may think you've chosen the healthier chicken dish, studies find that this isn't the case.

The 2010 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report by Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based food-industry consulting firm, found that while 43 percent of restaurant goers want healthier options, only 23 percent actually make healthy choices when placing their order. Why is this? Typically dining out is considered a special occasion. So it's no wonder you would allow yourself to eat (and drink) whatever you want.

Savor the Flavor, Not the Calories

To make the most of your restaurant experience all-the-while making sure you're not undoing a week's worth of exercise, follow these tips.

1. Drink responsibly. Limit yourself to one or two drinks. This will go a long way to ensuring the drive home is a safe one. Secondly, keep in mind of your health when choosing your drinks. Beer and mixed drinks are chockfull of empty calories and carbohydrates. Opt for red wine instead. It's less calorie-dense and loaded with antioxidants.

2. Smart substitutions. Yes, some menus explicitly limit substitutions. However, most will cater to your requests. Instead of rice or potatoes, ask to swap for another vegetable. Have a choice between mashed potatoes or a sweet potato? Go with the latter.

3. Skip or split. It'd be great to simply skip the chocolate torte altogether. However, some of us are suckers for a good appetizer, while others cannot do without dessert. If you find yourself in either of these demographics, lighten the calorie load. Split less healthy portions of your meal with the person your dining with. This way, you get all the flavor with only half the calories.

4. When in doubt, ask. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, elements of your meal may be fried or saturated in butter. If you're unsure if those steamed veggies you substituted are smothered in butter and salt, ask the server.




Tecnomic, Inc.
2010 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report (brochure)