Who doesn't enjoy the convenience of sitting down in a restaurant and ordering whatever we want off the menu? Apparently most of us do since one third of our meals are eaten away from home.
I covered the downside of splurging over the holidays in a previous blog, but dining out provides an opportunity to over eat all year round. The price we pay is not just rung up at the register. We give up a significant measure of control over the source of the food, how it's prepared and how much is served to us. And that's not good.
The only recourse is to follow some rules when you place your order to regain control over what arrives on your plate. It takes a lot more self-control to avoid eating half your meal once it's served than to simply order wisely so the excess food is not in front of you.
These rules do not replace the need for you to order the foods that fit best into your day of eating. And they don't ask you to give up all of the foods you love! Instead they give you some additional ways to reduce the chance of splurging when eating out, and that's a good thing.
CALORIE-SAVING RULES FOR ORDERING OFF RESTAURANT MENUS
- Custom Omelet Rule - Order only 2 eggs, not the customary 3, and only with vegetable add-ins.
- Breakfast Meats or Eggs Rule – Since side orders of breakfast meats are large, skip the eggs if you really want bacon, sausage or ham.
- Buttered Toast or Fried Potatoes Rule - Request one or the other with that omelet, egg or breakfast meat order, not both.
- Pancakes or Toast Rule – No contest, if you're not ordering pancakes as your breakfast, don't add them to an egg order.
- Cheese or Meat Rule - Think Kosher and try not to combine cheese with meat on sandwiches, pizza or burgers. Let sliced tomatoes, onions or mushrooms take its place.
- 50% Burger or Fries Rule – Split one or the other, but don't eat a full order of both.
- No More Than One Fried Food Rule - If you must order something fried, don't have anything else in your meal fried. That means the traditional "fish and chips" is out.
- Wet or Dry Salad Rule – The bigger the salad, the more dressing it takes to wet it down. If you're having an entree salad, be prepared to use just lemon juice, no calorie dressing or wet vegetables to partially moisten it.
- Cocktail or Carbs Rule - For each alcoholic drink you order, be prepared to eliminate a serving of carbohydrate in the form of bread, pasta, rice, potatoes or dessert.
- Appetizer or Dessert Rule – If you add something to the beginning of your meal, don't also add something at the end. Sharing is the only other option.
- Bread & Butter or Dessert Rule – Like an appetizer or a cocktail, you can't afford to add the extra calories from a basket of bread to the front end of a meal then order dessert on the tail end, too. Check the quality of the bread and the dessert menu to guide your decision.
- Double Green Vegetable, No White Starch Rule – A double order of any sautéed vegetable will contain fewer calories than a dressed baked potato, creamy mashed potato, rice pilaf, risotto or pasta in sauce.
- Vegetable-Only Salad Rule – A first course salad picks up a lot of extra calories for every non-vegetable item tossed into it, like dried fruit, nuts, cheese, croutons and bacon. Make sure your salads are made from garden vegetables only.