On the Leaner Side

Not sure what to order? For lower-calorie, perhaps lower-fat cuisine, try this:

Appetizers Fresh fruit cup, broth, bouillon, or consommé, fruit or vegetable juice, marinated vegetables, crudités, or raw vegetables, with a yogurt or salsa dip, seafood cocktail

Breads Hard rolls or whole-wheat buns, French or Italian bread, bread sticks, melba toast, or saltine crackers

Salads Salads with dressing on the side

Vegetables Steamed vegetables, plain or with a lemon wedge, grilled or roasted vegetables

Entrées Lean meat, fish, and poultry that are broiled, grilled, or roasted, with any sauces served on the side (remove visible fat and poultry skin); vegetarian dishes that go easy on cheese or cheese sauces Fruit ice or sorbet, fresh fruit, angel food cake with fruit, low-fat frozen yogurt, cappuccino

Ingredients in sauces confuse many restaurant-goers. What, for example, is the difference between béarnaise and bolognese sauce? Which is apt to be lower in fat? What's a reduction sauce? For a quick description, see "Gourmet's Guide to Sauces" on page 343.

  • Find out about portion sizes. Big portions do not mean restaurant quality. For example, a 5- to 6-ounce portion of meat, poultry, or fish probably is enough for the whole day, especially if you eat other Meat and Beans Group foods during the day. A 12-ounce steak or a 6-ounce filet mignon? Go for the smaller portion. You'll save on calories, fat, and perhaps money. See "RestaurantPortions: You're in Control" in this chapter.
  • Don't see anything that's right for you? Ask to order "off the menu." For less fat and calories, you might request broiled fish or chicken breast seasoned with herbs and lemon juice, or fresh fruit for dessert, or low-fat milk. See "On the 'Leaner' Side" above for common menu items with less fat.
  • Choose a meal with food variety when you eat out: more variety often means more flavor! That's easy to do with an à la carte menu. À la carte means that each item is separately ordered and priced. Be specific about a special menu request—for example, rather than ask for a "low-fat plate," ask if the chef can "broil fish without butter," "bring dry toast," or "serve dressing on the side."
  • If you don't plan to eat a side dish or sauce, ask to have it left off your plate—perhaps skip tartar sauce served with fish, or chips served with a sandwich.
  • If you choose a higher-calorie entrée, balance it with a lower-calorie side dish and dessert. Perhaps balance fettuccine alfredo, which is high in calories and fat, with fresh fruit to end the meal. Just make tradeoffs: if you eat foods with more calories, fat, or sodium when you dine out, cut back at home.
  • If the food isn't prepared as you ordered, send it back. Ask for something else if necessary.

Help Yourself

Practice the art of enjoying food variety, balance, and moderation when you eat out.

  • Can't resist the urge to overindulge on tortilla chips or bread served when you're seated? Do you nibble mindlessly on pretzels and chips, brought with a beverage order? Take a few on a plate or napkin, and then move them, or ask to have them removed from the table.
  • Go easy on dipping oils—even though they're usually olive oils (healthy oils). A slice of bread may soak up 3 or 4 teaspoons of oil, or 14 to 19 fat grams, compared 4 to 8 fat grams in 1 to 2 teaspoons of butter or margarine spread on a bread slice.
  • If you need help in curbing a big appetite, order a salad or broth-based soup, or appetizer crudités (raw vegetables) right away. Go easy on dressings and dips.
  • Eat slowly, and stop eating before you feel too full.

May I Take Your Order?

Variety on the menu? The choices on the left have fewer calories and fat than their counterparts on the right.

Enjoy More Often

Consommé, gazpacho, clear soups

Vegetable plate with salsa, steamed vegetables

Garden, tossed, or spinach salad with dressing on the side, crisp and crunchy vegetables

Grilled meats, broiled or flame-cooked

Broiled, steamed, poached, roasted, baked, Cajun, or blackened 4- to 6-oz. steak Au jus, Provençal or fruit sauces

Baked potatoes (plain or with a small amount of margarine or sour cream), red skin potatoes

Sandwiches on whole-wheat, pita, or rye with mustard or low-fat mayonnaise Plain whole-wheat or multigrain rolls or bread sticks Fruit, fruit sorbet Colorful vegetable side dishes

Enjoy Sometimes

Cream soups, soups topped with cheese, bisques Pâté, quiche lorraine, stuffed appetizers

Salads with large amounts of dressing, bacon, cheese, croutons, and mayonnaise-laden salads such as potato, macaroni, and tuna Breaded or batter-dipped meat or extra gravy

Breaded, fried, sautéed, au gratin, escalloped, en croûte, creamed, en casserole, or Kiev entrées More than 8-oz. steak

Gravy, alfredo, béarnaise, béchamel, beurre blanc, carbonara, hollandaise, pesto, and velouté sauces Home-fried and deep-fried potatoes, twice-baked potatoes, croquettes, buttered noodles

Sandwiches on croissants or biscuits

Garlic bread, cheese spreads, flavored butters Cheesecake, French pastries, pie, ice cream Mashed potatoes with gravy, fries

That gives you time to get in touch with your satiety cues. Ask the server to remove your plate when you're done, even if a little food is left.

• If you drink, enjoy alcoholic beverages, including wine and beer, in moderation. Healthful eating guidelines advise no more than one (if you're a woman) or two (if you're a man) alcoholic drinks per day. Besides their calories, a drink or two may increase your

Menu Language

Looking for foods with less calories, fat, or sodium? Check the menu. Although they offer no guarantee, descriptive terms often give clues to more or less fat, perhaps calories, or more sodium. See "Eating Out" in chapter 7.

Menu Clues: Less Calories and Fat




Cooked in its own juices Dry broiled (in wine or lemon juice)


Lightly sautéed





Menu Clues: More Calories and Fat

Au gratin or in cheese sauce




Beurre blanc





Double crust

En croûte


Menu Clues: More Sodium



In broth





Marinated (in oil)

Pan fried





Scalloped (escalloped) With gravy With mayonnaise With cream sauce

Smoked Teriyaki

With cocktail sauce With creole sauce With soy sauce

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