Jun 01, 2015 10:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs

If you aren’t careful, dining out can wreck your waistline. “Eating out at restaurants is both fun and convenient,” says Allison Riederer, MS, a registered dietitian at University of Utah Health. “Unfortunately, it can also come with a whole day’s worth of calories in just one meal.” But eating out doesn’t have to mean the end of healthful eating. Here, Riederer shares some tips for dining out.

diet nutrition

Dining Out

Start with a salad

Skip heavy appetizers and start your meal with a salad. Load up on veggie toppings, but be mindful of croutons, bacon and cheese; they quickly make a healthful salad go south. Restaurants also tend to drench the greens in dressing, so ask for it on the side. Dip a fork in the dressing before bites.

Learn the lingo

Navigate the menu and avoid fried and cream-based foods, as they tend to be loaded in calories and saturated fat. Broiled, grilled, steamed and baked foods are lighter options. If you aren’t sure how a dish is prepared, check with your server.

Swap sides

Instead of french fries, ask for steamed veggies, or spice it up with a baked potato topped with salsa. Swap chips or macaroni salad for fresh fruit. Ask your server what lighter sides are available. There may be some off-menu options.

Share a meal

Restaurants usually serve huge portions, so consider splitting a meal with someone at your table. Or, when you order, ask the server to box half the meal before it gets to your table.

Rethink your drink

Bottomless sodas and pitchers of beer can be a significant source of empty calories. Instead try water, soda water or unsweetened iced tea. “If you order a soda or an alcoholic drink, try to stick to just one and savor it,” Riederer suggests.

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