Here are a few ideas for making dining out a fun, rewarding experience that won't spoil your resolutions for a leaner, healthier new year.
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 you can't get veggies and the restaurant brings you bread, dip it in olive oil. People who opt for this over butter eat less bread. And if the bread-basket includes choices, go for the browner, whole-grain stuff.
- 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. If you want a more elaborate dressing, ask for it on the side and use the tiniest bit possible.
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. Sometimes a foamy (decaf) cappucino can be satisfying, too.
- Go European. Do what many Europeans do: Make salad the last thing you eat.