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Reasonable Restaurant Eating

Restaurant eating can be a guilt-free experience. In order not to overeat it is important that you pay special attention to your hunger, fullness and satisfaction signals. Here are some tips on how to enjoy eating out without over doing it.

Realize that you will get full faster when eating in a restaurant. This is because restaurant foods are typically higher in fat and calories. The high fat content in foods will make you full faster and keep you full longer. Before ordering, try to judge which part of the meal you will enjoy the most, then order only that part of the meal. For example, don’t get an appetizer if you are really looking forward to the main course; or if appetizers sound good, you can always order one or two as a meal if they seem more appealing than the main course.

Research has shown that people will eat more when the portions are larger. Serving sizes in restaurants can be up to six times larger than a healthy portion size. Don’t be fooled by this and be sure not to let the restaurant determine your portion size. Eat only as much as your stomach needs. For example, if you are full part way through the sandwich, then stop eating. There is no reason to finish off the sandwich if you are full. Take home leftovers. Ask for a to-go box at the beginning of the meal and section off part of the meal into the box. Set the box aside and enjoy the remainder of the meal. Leftovers make great lunches the next day or even dinner the next night. Another way to cut down on portions is to share an entrée. Who says everyone at the table needs to order their own meal?

If you know ahead of time that you want to eat dessert, eat a very light meal. Consider splitting a. dessert if you can. Perhaps you only need a bite or two to feel satisfied.
Restaurants spend a lot of money marketing to their customers in order to persuade them to “buy” into the words that will increase their waistlines. Avoid foods with these words in the description; fried, battered, breaded, crispy, creamed, stuffed with cheese, Au gratin, buttered sauce, and in its own gravy. Focus on foods with these descriptions instead; grilled, barbecued, heart healthy, steamed, poached, roasted, low fat, in its own juice, whole grain or whole wheat.

Think of eating out in the context of your whole diet. If it is a special occasion, or you know you want to order your favorite meal at a nice restaurant, cut back on you other meals that day. Moderation is always key, but planning ahead can help you relax and enjoy your dining experience without sacrificing good nutrition and diet control.

Try This Instead


Instead of: waffles, fried eggs, bacon or sausage, muffin, donut of pastry
Try this: whole grain pancakes with fresh fruit or 100% juice, veggie omelet using egg whites or egg substitute, Canadian bacon or turkey sausage, whole wheat toast, English muffins or bagel with low fat cream cheese.

Instead of: Double cheeseburger, French fries or potato chips and a milkshake
Try this: grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce, tomato, onion, no mayo or lite mayo, baked potato with veggies, pretzels, 100% juice, low-fat milk, or diet soda.

Instead of: fried mozzarella sticks, cheese or meat filled pasta or casserole type dishes, pasta with butter or cream sauce and cheesecake


© NCES, Inc 2019

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