Cooking at home is the best way to ensure you're eating healthy food, but with a little know-how, restaurant menus don't have to be a dieting minefield. Slim down this year with Hungry Girl Lisa Lillien's food rules for 2013 for dining out (and in)!
Before you go out, find the menu online and decide what to eat. That way you can estimate how many calories and how much fat you'll be consuming and plan accordingly. When you arrive, ignore the specials and order what you know.
Avoid Sneaky Words
When your stomach's rumbling, it can be hard to decipher a menu. With a little decoding, you'll know what not to order. Words like "homemade," "legendary," "luscious" or "mama's" are not-so-secret synonyms for "fattening."
Order an Appetizer
Eating should be a multi-course experience, and ordering something for the table will make you eat slower – and fewer calories – when your main course comes. But not all appetizers are created equal: Opt for lean protein like a shrimp cocktail or chicken satay.
Dress Up to Eat Out
Make dinner an event and you’ll be more aware of your choices. Research shows that mindful diners eat fewer calories.
Makeunder Your Food
Pizza doesn't need a makeover – it just needs fewer unhealthy ingredients! Give delivery pizza a much-needed "makeunder." The secret: Order it thin crust with half the cheese, saving you 80 calories a slice.
Wondering what toppings to order? Find out on the next slide!
Avoid Veggie Fakers
You already know vegetables are better toppings than meats like sausage or pepperoni, but some veggies are imposters. Eggplant is usually breaded and fried, adding a whopping 370 calories a slice! Even if the eggplant isn't battered, it absorbs surrounding oil, so stick with mushrooms, peppers and onions. A thin-crust pizza slice with the right veggies is only about 180 calories.
Dip, Don’t Pour
Order your dressing on the side, or if you’re at home, put it in a small cup. That way you can dip your salad (or just your fork to spread the dressing) and save dozens of calories! Better yet, ask for or use plain balsamic vinegar or salsa to dress your salad.
Eating slowly can help you lose weight by preventing you from overeating. If you need help slowing down, try using chopsticks at every meal. The less skilled you are the better! Fiddling with these tricky sticks will force you to eat more slowly.
Have It Your Way
Do you miss ordering from your favorite takeout restaurant? Try this tip: Just because a dish is described one way on a menu doesn't always mean it has to be prepared as specified. Oftentimes takeout restaurants will prepare healthier versions of your favorite dishes. For example, you may want to ask for something steamed instead of fried. You can still enjoy your favorite flavors, but without the extra fat and calories.
Start With Soup
If you are looking for a low-calorie, low-fat snack, try reaching for a soup. A serving of egg drop or chicken noodle soup is under 100 calories and contains less than 5 grams of fat!