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Eating Out & Entertaining: Get Tips on Healthy Dining

Eating Out & Entertaining

Enjoy delicious dining without sabotaging your diet.

By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic – Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD


“Would you like that ‘supersized’?” is a common question at fast-food restaurants. The large portions we’re served when eating out at restaurants and take-out establishments can foil any healthy diet or weight loss program. The good news is that eating out healthfully has never been easier.

Whether you’re on the road, in an airport, or in your neighborhood, you’ll find that nearly all restaurants offer healthy choices for discriminating diners. When eating out, you can almost always find a nutritious salad, grilled chicken sandwich, or cup of soup that will satisfy your hunger without excess calories. (Just watch out for “all you can eat” buffets that tempt you into eating more than you should.)

At restaurants, “have it your way” — ask for the food to be prepared the way you like it. And be picky when scanning the offerings at parties, picnics, or barbeques. When eating with friends at a party or a picnic, your best bet is bring a healthy dish to share. That way, you can be sure there’s something nutritious for you to eat.

Experts offer the following tips to help you make the most nutritious and healthy choices when you’re eating out:

  • Have sauces served on the side.
  • Choose light salad dressings or vinaigrettes, served on the side.
  • Go for foods that are baked, broiled, roasted, grilled — any preparation other than fried is the best choice.
  • Select broth-based soups.
  • Have tomato or vegetable toppings on pasta.
  • Go easy on the cheese.
  • Limit bread, chips, or whatever is in the basket while you await your meal.
  • Order fresh fruit or fruit sorbet for dessert.
  • Choose grilled chicken or lean meat sandwiches.
  • Hold the french fries; substitute a side salad (easy on the dressing).
  • Skip the casseroles unless you know what they contain.
  • Choose simply prepared foods without lots of extra ingredients and calories.
  • Enjoy as many simply prepared vegetables as you like.
  • Keep portions small.
  • Avoid mindless hand-to-mouth eating.
  • Enjoy a salad and an appetizer in place of an entree, or take home half your meal for tomorrow’s lunch.

Published February 2006.

©2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

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