Tips to keep the calories down when eating out

By Paul Scicluna

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When I eat out I want it to be special, but healthy too. The trap with eating out is that some restaurants serve not so healthy foods which can add plenty of calories in just one sitting. If you’re watching your weight or just want to keep the calories down read this!

Here are six tips for getting the calories out of restaurant meals while still enjoying yourself.

1. Say NO to big servings.

What usually happens when you go out, is that regardless of a person’s size, everyone is expected to eat 3 meals – entree, main and dessert. You realise that this method of eating will generally result in you stacking on the calories and making you round. Order entrees or appetizers, which are usually smaller portion sizes. What’s great with this is that you can order a few different dishes and share the meals with your partner or friend. At least you get to try some different dishes and have variety.

2. Skip the bread.

Many restaurants offer bread to start before your meal. Sometimes they keep filling up your bread plate until you say no. If you fill up on bread you miss out on eating some delicious, nutritious foods. What’s more, you’ll just clog up your body and fall into a food coma. Sleeping at the table is not a pretty sight... If you MUST indulge, just have one small piece of wholemeal or rye bread. A lot of places serve margarine and not butter which contains the bad fats. What’s even better than having butter is a lashing of extra virgin olive oil, and then if you want, dip it in good quality salt.

3. Don’t order drinks like alcohol and soft drinks.

Generally drinks are a huge cash cow for restaurants. Not only that, one glass of red wine has approximately 85 calories; a glass of soft drink has about 60 calories. Imagine if you had a few glasses throughout your meal! And that is only your drinks, no food included. Really, it’s not worth it. You can always ask the waiter for water or even soda water, and to put a slice or two of fresh lemon and lime slices to jazz it up. Squeeze the juice from the slices and you get a naturally healthy flavoured drink.

4. Slow down when eating!

If you don’t go out that often then savour the moment. Take your time, enjoy the flavours. A big part of getting in touch with your hunger signals and learning to eat what really will satisfy is learning to recognise the subtle signs of hunger. You won't know when you're approaching satisfaction if you've gobbled everything down in five minutes. Take a bite then notice how many times do you chew before you start wanting to swallow? Once, twice? Make an effort to chew your food and your body will be much happier. Your digestion process begins in your mouth, not to mention you'll get much more pleasure if you let the food linger.

5. Trim visible fat and skin.

For those of you who enjoy your meat and the skin you need to be reminded that it’s full of fat! The question is, do you want to get leaner, or do you want to get larger? You choose. If you choose a meat without skin then that’s a great start! Then, if you see any visible fat on the meat, remove it and do not eat it. You have to decide what you want more, seconds of pleasure of eating the skin, or a lifetime of carrying around an extra 10 kg (22lb)? Do your body and your health a favour by not eating the skin and trimming fat off meat. Why not experiment and indulge in a vegetarian meal? You can get plenty of vego meals packed full of flavour and nutrition. Just stay away from rices, pastas and creamy sauces!

6. Finishing off your meal.

I can hear many of you now thinking that you want a massive piece of cake or ice-cream for dessert. My advice, skip dessert. Desserts are generally packed full of calories. Did you know that as a rough guide, depending on the type there can be up to 70 calories in a few small bite-sized chocolate pieces. To get that off you’d need to be running on the treadmill for around 20 - 30 minutes depending on the speed, just to burn off the calories from that little bit of chocolate. That’s not including the rest of your day’s food and drink intake. So be sure to avoid desserts, as there can be hundreds if not thousands of hidden calories in them. If you want something sweet, have a fresh fruit platter or fruit salad. Fresh mint leaves, a few nuts or even lemon juice can add a flavour explosion to fruit salads.



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