Monday, April 25, 2011

Can I eat out in Tulsa and still Loose Weight?

Tulsa is full of great restaurants. We have wonderful little neighborhood eateries. We have an abundance of chain restaurants. We have fabulous gourmet spots.
I am a Dietitian. I live in Tulsa, and I LOVE to eat out. So how does a Tulsan with all these options eat healthy while eating out?
First of all, eating out should be a treat.  Keep it to a minimum. No more than 1-2 times per week. Second, fast food is not real food!!! You should not pay money for it. It should not go into your body. Save your money for a good meal at a real restaurant.  
Now, how to achieve your weight loss goals while enjoying those outings
Let’s start with chains. Most have online menus with nutrition information. Before you leave your house, check out the menu and decide on your order. This can also be done with your smart phone on the way;)  It is so much easier to make a good choice without the noise and smells of the restaurant to distract you. Avoid appetizers and desserts (way too many calories).
·         Ordering a salad is not automatically the safest choice. A lot of big restaurant salads have more calories than a cheeseburger! Example; Applebee’s Crispy Shrimp Cesar Salad is 1030 calories. The Bacon Cheddar Cheeseburger is 970. This salad can be turned into a better choice by ordering the half salad with dressing ON THE SIDE, bringing the calorie count down to less than 400. Most restaurants put way too much dressing on salads. It’s better if you control that.
·         Look for special low-cal menus or special notations for low-cal items. 
·         Ask for steamed veggies instead of French fries or mashed potatoes.

The same rules apply to local restaurants of all kinds. The main difference is that you cannot always view these menus online (I usually try anyway).  Servers at local restaurants can be very helpful. They are usually knowledgeable about the menu, and can give you an idea about how dishes are made as well as portion sizes. 
·         Plan on sharing with a friend. If portions are known to be large, ask a tablemate to split an entre with you.
·         Plan to take some home. Ask your server to bring a to-go box with your food. Put at least half of your food in the box right away.  Don’t wait until you are finished eating. Many studies have shown that people eat 90% of the food on our plate, no matter how much food that is.
A little preparaton and forethought can make your dining experience enjoyable without ruining your weight management plans. So, go out, have a good time, and don't forget to get to the gym tomorrow;)

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