Monday, April 26, 2010

How to avoid "restaurant catastrophes"

Although "cook your food" is an important healthy-foodie principle, I can't deny my love for eating out. Trying a new restaurant -- or returning to an old fave -- is my idea of a fun evening out. The Real Age website has some interesting ideas for ways to navigate restaurant meals so that you don't have to atone for your foodie sins for days afterward. They suggest that the first 10 minutes and last 10 minutes of your evening out might be the most important in terms of making healthier choices. Here's a summary of their tips.

Before You Go

Don’t arrive starving! Eat a little healthy fat -- like about six walnut halves -- before a meal. The healthy fat in walnuts triggers a chain reaction that slows the rate at which your stomach empties, so you’ll feel fuller faster. But the chain reaction takes 30 minutes, so plan for it.

The First 10 Minutes

  • Raise a glass. Of water. To your lips. This can fill you up, so you don’t overeat.
  • Ask for cut-up veggies instead of bread. Most quality restaurants (including inexpensive ones) provide this option.
  • Dip in olive oil. If the restaurant brings you whole-grain bread, dip it in olive oil. People who opt for this over butter eat less bread.
  • Request the bottles. Order oil and vinegar on the side. Relying on the kitchen to dress your salad -- even with oil and vinegar -- can deliver as many as 450 extra calories!

The Last 10 Minutes

  • Share. Get one dessert for every four or five people, and have just a few bites. If there are just two of you, take half of the dessert home, and freeze it for a special occasion.
  • Savor your wine. Ending a meal with a glass of wine lets you avoid the cloying aftertaste of sweets . . . and helps you avoid calorie-bombs, too.
  • Go European. Do what many Europeans do: Make salad the last thing you eat.

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