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Pre-Dining Strategies

Never Arrive Hungry

Grab a healthy snack prior to leaving home or work. This will help prevent you from ordering appetizers that tend to be high in fat and calories. 
Always Know Where You’re Going

Select a restaurant that you know, or that posts the menu on the outside window. Make sure healthy menu choices are offered or special requests are honored. Maintain a selection of preferred take out menus so you can review your options ahead of time and have in mind a healthy choice when it`s time to order. Look up the menu online. Many restaurants have PDF files of their menu. 
Skip The Cocktail Hour
Limit your intake of alcohol, or better yet, avoid it all together. Drinking alcohol can lower your resistance to tempting, high fat foods and can reduce your appetite all together, putting you at a deficit for valuable nutrients. Alcohol also affects the metabolic functions of every gastrointestinal tract organ, including the liver. Alcohol is directly toxic to many bodily tissues, including the liver and pancreas. 

Decoding Your Menu

Ask Before You Order
Ask about words you don`t understand or if the item can be prepared in a more healthful manner. Request a clear explanation of ingredients and preparation methods. Your waiter/waitress should readily know how your food is prepared. 
Gain A Healthy Perspective

If you feel self-conscious about your dietary choices, or feel your inquiries are causing the wait staff trouble, rethink your position. Would you buy a book without reading the back cover to at least see if it`s interesting? You have a right to ask questions about an item on a menu. After all, you are the one who will be eating and paying for it! 
Order It The Way You Want It

Ask for salad dressings, sauces and gravies to be served on the side (but should be skipped all together if you are really wanting to stay super low fat and low carb). You can ask for fresh lemon and olive oil, or just plain vinegar and oil).  I actually carry a flask of apple cider vinegar and my own sea salt in my purse! Most salads in restaurants include cheese and croutons; always ask to remove those items, but replace them with extra vegetables.  Ask for skim or low fat milk to use in coffee or tea. Don’t be afraid to get your food the way you want it and need it. You are paying for it.

Know The Skinny on Fattening Foods
The following menu descriptors are high in fat and should always be avoided:
au beurre Bearnaise fried
au gratin fritters Alfredo
crispy hollandaise batter-dipped
carbonara parmigiana breaded
flaky tempura creamy

Better choices for preparing meat and fish include: 

au jus boiled poached
baked grilled roasted
barbecued marinated steamed


Asking a simple question may lead you better meal choices.

If the menu says… Ask…
Breaded “Is it fried? What Type of Fat is used?”
Broiled “Is butter used?”
Grilled “What type of fat is used?”
Seasoned “Are any fats used to season this?”
Specially prepared “What exactly does this mean?”

Life In The Fast-Food Lane

There are going to be times when it is most convenient to visit a fast food restaurant. The main nutritional concerns with fast food meals are that they are high in calories, carbohydrates and fats. So what should a fast food eater do? You can order grilled chicken and toss the bun? You can get a salad with vegetables and lean protein and use your own dressing, or ask for lemons? You can carry a cooler in your car with foods you have prepared and save the money and the time of a fast food line? YOU CAN CHOOSE. 
The most important take home message is that dining out is a part of our lives and can’t or shouldn’t be avoided so just be educated and thoughtful in your choices. You can still enjoy life and stay on your mission towards health and wellness. 

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