With the hum of soft music, the lure of a beautifully designed menu, and the aroma of delicious foods wafting to your nostrils, a restaurant’s ambiance can sometimes blind you from what you’re eating, elegantly arranging a caloric death trap. But before you put the nail on your calorie coffin, check out these astoundingly simple tips that allow you to enjoy your meal without worry.
1. Skip the Bread.
Sure, bread tastes great, but the calories it contains aren’t. While a single breadstick from Olive Garden only contains 150 calories, let’s be honest and admit that one isn’t going to cut it. They’re just so good! But eating 2 or 3 breadsticks makes you quickly rake in the calories and leaves less room in your stomach for vegetables that show up with your entrée. Best bet: avoid the bread and enjoy your whole meal.
2. Be First in Line.
So you’re out to eat and your friend orders some sort of decadent sounding dinner from cloud 9 that’s nothing shy of a gut bomb. You’re next to order so you spit out, “Oh, that sounds delicious, I’ll get that too.” Hey, don’t blame yourself, we all do it. The solution? Order first. By ordering before everyone else, you don’t really have the option to go back and change your mind.
3. Get Useful Apps.
Many, many restaurants these days have really generous portion sizes. If you’re not completely sure what a portion size looks like, check out your hand. The size of your palm is about the same as what a serving of meat should look like. For pasta, fruits, and vegetables, a perfect serving size is easily demonstrated when you make a fist. But how often do you get a knuckle sandwich-sized tangle of spaghetti? …Never. And for that reason, an appetizer may be the perfect solution to snipping calories off your meal. Or, if you don’t see an appetizer that’s a suitable substitute for dinner, refer to tip #8.
4. Down the Hatch.
The average can of soda contains somewhere around 150 calories. However, when you go out to eat, you’re not tipping back a mere 12 ounces of sugary drink. Realistically, you’re sipping on a 24 ounce glass and getting at least one refill. And you may want to rethink that after-dinner latte. At 8 ounces, the average latte has around 110 calories. But while these calorie packers add to your waistline, they are really good at reducing one thing: your wallet. Drinks really add up, which is almost silly when you can get a refreshing, healthy, calorie-exempt drink, known as water, for free.
5. Fresh Start.
Francophones may disagree, but eating salad before your main meal isn’t always such a bad idea. By starting with greens, you’re more likely to feel fuller when your entrée comes, so you’ll be nixing a huge portion of the calories you’d ingest.
6. Leave the Fish to Fry.
While it may not seem like a big difference, fried foods have way more calories. Take chicken for example: a single piece of fried poultry has up to 260 calories, while a grilled piece may only have around 148. If you see something on the menu that you like but notice it’s fried, ask the wait staff if you can substitute it for a healthier option, like something broiled or grilled. And don’t get played by words. “Crusted” is generally just a euphemism for fried – so be on the lookout.
7. Don’t Be Seduced by Salads.
Take a look to see what’s lurking among those leaves. If you think a salad’s a better meal choice, just remember that the average Cobb packs in about 840 calories. Yeah, that’s more than 3 Whopper Jr. sandwiches. With dressings that grab your gut, sodium-ridden cheeses, and crunchy fried meats, salads can pose a huge threat – so choose wisely. Look for ones that offer an array of colorful vegetables and greens while keeping dressings to vinaigrettes or lemon juice.
8. Go Half In.
How often do you actually eat an entire entrée at a restaurant? And if you are able to finish your entire meal, do you feel over-full? While it sounds radical, try putting half of your meal in a to-go box before you dig in or split it with a member of your party. You just might be surprised how satisfied you feel and your waist will thank you.
About the Author:
"Katie Straw" is the Gourmet Scribe at GourmetGiftBaskets.com, one of the top suppliers of gift baskets in the nation, and currently resides in Manchester, New Hampshire.