Q&S Digital Studio
Have your nondieting friends planned a night out with you at an Italian restaurant? Don't panic. You can still have an enjoyable evening -- without setting back your weight loss. Just avoid that heaping bowl of pasta and arm yourself with these tips for dining out:
Beware of extra calories and saturated fats. Some ingredients can pack a surprising - and damaging - amount of the bad stuff (see chart below). Remember: If you're sticking to a 1,500-calories-a-day diet, you want to have less than 16 grams of saturated fat.
|Ingredient (1 tsp)||Calories added||Saturated fat added (g)|
|Cheese (any type)||85 to 100||.5 to .6|
|Vegetable oil||40||.5 (although these are mostly "good" fats)|
Order with confidence. After your server rattles off the specials, ask her which menu items are the healthiest. You may be pleasantly surprised to hear options that you hadn't even considered.
Watch your portions. To avoid temptation, ask the server to bring you a take-home container with your meal. That way, you can divide your dinner into the proper portions and pack away the extras for another time. Here's what should be on your plate:
A piece of meat (or other protein) about the size of a deck of cards. Or, a cut of fish the size of a checkbook. Ask that these be broiled with no fat added.
A baseball-size scoop of rice, pasta, or couscous; or, 1 cup of soup thick with rice, beans, or pasta; or, 2 palm-size slices of bread without butter or margarine. Feel free to mix and match these side dishes. For example, have half the suggested amount of rice with 1 palm-size slice of bread.
A softball-size helping of steamed vegetables (or more is fine). Stress that your veggies should not be cooked with oil, butter, or cream.
A side salad with up to 2 tablespoons of nuts, dried fruit, or cheese. Note: If you order a salad with pasta, beans, or corn, limit your serving to about the size of an average cupcake wrapper and skip half of your rice, pasta, or bread serving. Ask for your dressing on the side and dip your fork in it with each bite of salad.
Eat dessert at home. Invite everyone back to your house and offer any of the following (about 120 calories each) per guest:
1 cup Italian ice
1/2 cup sorbet
1 low-fat ice cream sandwich (check nutrition facts)
6 meringue cookies (any flavor but chocolate) or 5 chocolate meringue cookies
2 cups berries with 3 tablespoons light whipped dessert topping
Bonus: Some restaurant chains now offer nutritional information. Click on the links below for some popular national chains that list nutrition facts for their full or partial menus. Scout your favorite restaurant online to see if it offers the information or call the eatery and ask.