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Healthy Dining Out

Healthy Dining Out
By Brenda Jaeck, Nutrition and Lifestyle Counselor

In an age where the number of meals being eaten outside the home is ever increasing it seems important to be able to so mindfully. Eating mindfully is more than half the battle in creating or maintaining a healthy eating plan. Some helpful tips to eating out healthily include venue selection, ordering, portion control and not being afraid to ask for what you want.

Venue When choosing a restaurant it is important to keep all the participants in mind. You want to make sure that all dietary and personal requests can be honored. Also be aware of both healthy and unhealthy choices. You want to make sure that there will be healthful menu choices as well as limited temptations to sabotage your efforts.

Bread Generally, the first thing that happens after you sit down is the dreaded bread basket arrives. There is generally enough bread to feed at least 2 – 3 times the number of guests at the table. To combat this you can either ask the waitperson to NOT leave the bread at your table, or after each guest has one piece ask to have the basket removed. This way no one feels deprived of having bread, yet temptation is limited.

The next step is ordering drinks. Be mindful of how many calories are in before-dinner drinks – switching to a sparkling mineral water or even a wine spritzer will save calories that can better sued for food. Use your alcohol calories wisely!

Specials When the waiter brings the menus always ask if there are any specials. Often we are diligent when reviewing the menu and then it all “goes out the window” when the waiter comes to take the orders and says “can I tell you about our specials today.” Everything always sounds so good; we often forget to ask questions.

Be Sally from When Harry Met Sally – she always asked for the sauce on the side. Don’t be afraid to make special requests; including alternative ways of cooking or substituting extra vegetables for another calorie dense option. After all – you are paying for the meal; you may as well have it the way that you want it.

Portion Control To help with portion control you can ask the waitperson to put half of your dinner in a “to go box” before he brings it to the table. If this is not possible you can cut the entrée in half and move it to one side of your plate – then only eat one half. Most restaurant portions are enough for two meals.

Dessert When is comes to dessert – split one with your dining companion. This way you are not deprived but are still saving calories.

Dining out used to be reserved for special occasions – since it is now an almost everyday occurrence – more diligence is needed.

Brenda Jaeck is a Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle Counselor, Lecturer and Workshop Facilitator. She can be contacted at 917 213 9305 or For more information visit her website at
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