Restaurant Portions Youre in Control

If restaurant portions seem too big for you, remember this: you have choices. You control portions by what you order and how you handle what comes on your plate.

  • First think, just how hungry are you?
  • Order first, before your meal companions do, if possible. Then you won't be influenced by their order.
  • Choose the portion size you want. Many restaurants offer appetizer portions, half portions, and full portions. Or try tapas, "little plates," or dim sum, and just order one or two dishes to share at a time.
  • Split a dish with someone. Ask for two plates.
  • Order two appetizers, or an appetizer and a salad, instead of the full entrée and other courses.
  • Order à la carte. You won't be tempted by more food than you need.
  • Turn today's dinner into tomorrow's lunch. Most restaurants have take-away containers-a timesaving strategy for your next meal. Tip: Store perishable foods in the refrigerator within two hours, or within one hour if the temperature is over 90° F.
  • For double benefits, look for "early bird" specials. They may offer smaller portions for a lower price. Or eat out midday for a lunch-size portion.
  • Leave some food on the plate; it's okay to do this. Why pay twice: your pocketbook and your waistline?
  • Plan ahead for a trendy, multicourse tasting menu. Enjoying many small portions can add up to a lot of food!
  • Pass on all-you-can-eat specials, buffets, and unlimited salad bars if you tend to eat too much. Food bars can easily add up to too many calories.
  • If buffet-style eating is your choice, fill up on salad (easy on dressing) and vegetables first to appease your appetite. Take only two trips to the buffet: one for veggies, fruit, and salads, one for anything else. Use the small plate, which holds less.
  • Before it's served, ask your server to put half in a take-away container.

appetite and lessen your personal discipline at the table. As an option, try mineral water or club soda with a twist of lemon or lime.

• What about menus featuring several wine or beer pairings in a meal, or flights (several smaller portions

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