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Eating Out without Pigging Out

Filed Under: Sexual Health at 2:38 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Nutrition LabelIf you’re in New York, you probably breathed a small sigh of relief when the judge ruled that restaurants did not have to include calorie counts on their menus.  Nothing, after all, could ruin a delicious meal like the memory of those three (or four) digits that would have followed the description. When you’re going out, you don’t want to think about calories. Besides, you’ve stopped going to the evil fast-food restaurants and have opted, instead, for healthier quick fixes, such as Subway or Panera Bread. But, are you sure that what you’re getting is actually healthier than the shunned Big Mac and fries? A recent study found that diners at “healthier” restaurants were more likely to overeat than those at the blatantly unhealthy ones. The patrons, lulled into a false sense of security by the establishment’s name and reputation, bought fattier dishes, larger drinks and dessert. As such, they gained weight but were unsure as to why.  They were practicing uninformed eating, and the only way to rectify that is to become informed.

While calorie counts on the menu can be more traumatizing than helpful, knowing how much fat, sugar, sodium and, ultimately, calories you are consuming could keep you from a diet disaster. To get that information, you can visit restaurant web sites. There is often a nutritional-information page that will detail the meal exactly as a package’s nutrition label would. But, if you don’t want to peruse the entire online menu for a healthy option, check out the Healthy Dining Finder.  A web site created in conjunction with the National Restaurant Association, it lists healthy options from various restaurants based on specific calorie and fat limitations.  Of course, not every establishment is listed. If that includes your favorite, there are a few basic rules you can keep in mind, when ordering, that will help keep your waist in check:

• Skip or share the appetizer. This is a part of the meal you rarely have at home and one that is generally packed with fried fat and creamed-based calories.
• When selecting an entrée, choose grilled, baked or roasted. Look for lots of veggies, tomato-based sauces and soup-based dishes.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions. Grilled chicken instead of fried or dressing on the side can cut down on your calorie intake.
• Dessert is not a requirement, but it is hard to resist. So, try the fruit selections, sherbet and lower-calorie options. Items described as decadent indulgences or chocolate sins probably aren’t the way to go.
• They make doggy bags for a reason. Remember the importance of moderation. They aren’t challenging you when they hand you a giant platter; they’re giving you the opportunity to have lunch for tomorrow.
In today’s world, dining out is unavoidable. Making healthy choices isn’t.

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