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Dining Out This Summer?
Treat Yourself & Your Body by Using These Tips

Dining Out This Summer? - Treat Yourself & Your Body by Using These Tips

Getting into shape for swimsuit season was a challenge, but you did it! Not only that, you've managed to keep the pounds off despite the heat and all of those tempting frozen concoctions that Starbucks and its competitors keep advertising. Now, you just need to keep on track. Swimsuit weather is still going strong and dietary temptations will only get worse as the holidays roll around. Now more than ever, you need to stick to your eating plan of choice.

Of course one of the biggest challenges comes in the form of restaurants. No one enjoys standing over a flame when it's 90 degrees outside. Most of us would much prefer to dine out or order in. While there's nothing wrong with this in theory, the facts aren't quite as encouraging. Generally speaking, restaurant food is not only higher in calories but it's served in large portions. It's also loaded with fat, sodium, and starchy carbs. These things may taste yummy, but it doesn't take a nutritionist to know that they wreak havoc on most eating plans and diets.

With that in mind, we here at YOU Magazine have designed an "eating plan" to help you maintain your fitness goals. The following guidelines will not only allow you to dine out a few nights a week, but they will also help you to stick to your diet and, in turn, look good!

Plan Ahead
Spur-of-the-moment decisions can sometimes spell disaster, especially when it comes to eating. Whether you're watching your fat intake or counting carbs, only you know your weaknesses. Deciding on a destination before you get in the car or before you get hungry will help keep you focused. Once hunger hits, everything looks good and that's when bad decisions are made.

In addition to planning your destination, you may also want to plan what you order. Many restaurants have their menus posted on their website or will fax it to you upon request. This allows you time to look things over and go into the situation knowing what you'll do. How many times have you ordered something you didn't want to eat only because the server was standing tableside with pad and pen in hand?

In the event that you're forced to eat at a restaurant with no healthy selections, try adapting your entire day around the experience. If you know you're eating pizza that night, be strict during the day, but do not starve yourself. Doing so will only make you eat more of the bad food once it's in front of you.

Have It Your Way
Just because a restaurant may offer a dish prepared a certain way or accompanied by specific side dishes doesn't mean it has to be that way. Eating establishments have come a long way in the last 20 years in terms of preparing food to an individual's liking.

Think of it this way. There are many people who suffer from debilitating allergies to items such as nuts or shellfish. For some, ingesting these foods can have tragic results. This portion of our society is very accustomed to looking a server straight in the eye and saying, "No peanuts, please. Eating them will make me very sick."

The point here is to have a little confidence. Don't assume that making alterations to your order is asking too much or cause for embarrassment. This is your life, and you have every right to control what you eat. If a restaurant or a server has a problem with a specific request, you are eating at the wrong establishment.

Be Responsible
Now that you've ordered with confidence, you need to act responsibly. Mashed potatoes and French fries are not great choices for sides. Steamed veggies and salad, on the other hand, won't wreck any diet. Also, stay away from the word "extra". Extra dressing, extra sauce, and extra cheese never made anyone thin and fit.

For those who are concentrating on portion control, it's a good idea to ask your server to bring a to-go container at the same time they bring your order. As soon as your plate is in front of you, remove one third of the portion and box it up. After you complete your reduced portion, give yourself five minutes (you'll want to time this). If you're still hungry, eat the food you've wrapped up. If not, take it home.

If you're eating at a restaurant which serves either chips or bread as a precursor to a meal, ask your server not to bring them to the table. Instead, be friendly and honest. Explain that you have a tough time not devouring chips and salsa, and you're really trying to stick to your eating plan. Then, ask if there are any lighter alternatives like crudité (raw veggies) or fresh fruit. Chances are your server can relate to your request on some level. They may be able to present you with options you didn't know existed.

Mexican and Italian Food
Eating a healthy meal at a sushi bar or a vegetarian eatery is a no-brainer. The same can't be said for dining at a traditional Mexican or Southern Italian restaurant. You know the type. They're always dimly lit and serve up humongous portions. The Mexican version is usually renowned for the house margarita while its Italian counterpart has bottles of Chianti hanging from the ceiling.

These establishments, albeit delicious, serve up platters of temptation that can truly wreck a diet. The good news, however, is that there are selections on both menus which may fit into your eating plan.

When eating at a Mexican restaurant, try to stick to either fajitas or soft tacos featuring grilled chicken or fish. In both cases, you'll want to limit the cheese and sour cream. Opt instead for a side of fresh salsa. You will also want to choose corn tortillas over flour ones. They usually have less carbs and less fat. Lastly, always choose either black or pinto beans over refried.

For Italian eating, start by skipping the bread. You'll have a hard enough time limiting your carbs without a basket of tasty bread staring you in the face. If your entrée comes with a salad, eat a good portion of it. You'd rather fill up on salad than the alternatives. Regarding the entrees, look for items "from the grill". If it's pasta you order, stay away from creamy or cheesy sauces, opting instead for the marinara.

Regardless of which diet or eating plan you follow, it is possible to eat healthy meals when dining out. It's important, however, to realize that the responsibility lies with you. But if you do blow it and eat a meal you should have passed up, don't dwell on it! Move on and do better tomorrow. The only thing worse than blowing your diet is torturing yourself afterward.

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