Dining Out & Eating Smart

As the holiday season dies down, you may find yourself frequenting your favorite restaurants a little more often than you did in weeks before. Most restaurant owners will tell you they see a significant bump in traffic after the holidays. They attribute this increase in patronage to the fact that most of us want to avoid the hassle of cooking – especially after spending so much time in the kitchen during the holiday season!

If you’ve set out to make weight loss a priority goal for 2015, give some thought to your habits when it comes to dining out. Here are four quick tips to help you make better nutrition decisions at restaurants!

Hydrate Yourself
Your beverage is typically the first thing you’ll order in a restaurant. While a cola or beer may be your go-to, they’re full of empty calories and can actually make you thirstier. Instead, order a glass of water. Filtered water is usually free, anyway. So you may save a few bucks on the check! Drink most of your glass of water before your meal arrives.

Special Order
If the chicken dish looks good but it’s served with starchy or fatty sides, ask about swapping for something a little more healthy. Likewise, if vegetables are cooked in butter or fried, ask whether the chef could prepare them in oil or just plain steamed. If you’re feeling like you might be a pain to the waiter, you can always leave a little extra tip!

Leave the Freebies
Fried chips and salsa, warm bread and butter, croissants and jam, or any other free appetizers your server may set down will likely leave you full of empty calories. In fact, a small piece of bread and butter could cost you as much as 150 calories. Likewise, you should take it easy on salad dressings and sauces. Often times, these are full of salt, fat, or flavor enhancers.

Know Yourself
If you’ve always “indulged” in the dessert cart at Vincenzo’s or if you’ve never been able to turn down that deep-fried onion blossom from your favorite steakhouse, it might be a good idea to avoid those temptations altogether – at least for the first couple months of your weight loss journey. As your cravings and habits begin to change, slowly work in these familiar places but go in with fresh eyes and a fresh attitude.