Monday, February 29, 2016

Eat Out Italian, and Lose Weight

Our culture loves to eat. Dining out is a social event where we relax, enjoy food good, and enjoy great conversations with friends. American’s are eating out more than ever and unfortunately it is resulting in an obesity epidemic. We all know eating at home is more calorie conscious, but it also is not always feasible. Is it possible to eat out regularly and still lose weight?

Let’s say you want to be weight conscious Friday night when eating at an Italian restaurant. You are going out with friends so you want to enjoy yourself but you still want to make health choices. 

You arrive at the restaurant hungry and fresh bread is placed on the table so you enjoy just one piece (80 calories) with a small amount of butter (40 calories). You practice good willpower and  resist a second piece of bread.

You skip the heavy appetizers and order a Caesar salad. Recognizing it has a lot of oil and cheese you only eat half (200 calories). Your plan is to limit starches so you order Chicken Marsala with steamed vegetables and no pasta. It is so good you eat three-quarters (575 calories).

You are having a great time with friends and enjoy 2 glasses of wine (250 calories). Your friends want to order dessert but you resist. You made some great decisions to cut out calories, but your total intake was still 1145 calories, way over your goal.

People following a 2000 calorie diet need about 500-600 calories at meals. People trying to lose weight with lower calorie goals need even less. Is it possible to eat out and still lose weight? It is if you stick to your calorie goals. Try this approach the next time you go out for Italian…

Eat an apple or another small healthy snack 1-2 hours before dinner so you don’t arrive at the   restaurant starving. Skip the bread altogether and enjoy only 1 glass of wine (125 calories). If you feel the need for an appetizer try a bowl of     minestrone soup (110 calories). Order a grilled salmon salad (without cheese, avocado, nuts, or dried fruit) with clear dressing on the side to use sparingly. Plan to eat about 1/2 the salmon and most of the salad (350 calories). Skip dessert and you are at 585 calories for the night. Skip the wine or soup and you are even less!

Many restaurants are now offering entrees under 600 calories which are great choices to select. Restaurants such as Harvest and Season’s 52 pride themselves in offering entire menu’s under 500 calories making them wonderful options for a night out with friends. Learning to eat all foods in moderation is important for a healthy lifestyle, and selecting smaller portions and lower calorie menu items sets you up for success in fitting the battle of the bulge.

Calories at Popular Italian Restaurants
1 glass wine 125Caesar Salad 400Tiramisu 510Lobster Ravioli 700Chicken Marsala 700Chicken Parmesan 850Salmon with Lemon & Herbs 990Steak & Gorgonzola Salad 1200Lasagna 1820Gnocchi 1870Fettuccini Alfredo 2000Mussels Diavolo 2310*these are general estimates, portion sizes and cooking methods vary  greatly among restaurants

Dining Out Strategies
Look up the menu and nutrition information before going out to eat
Order soup, salad, or healthy appetizers for your main entrée
Box up 1/2 or 3/4 of your entrée before you start eating
Ask for no cheese to cut out 100 calories per slice
Order salad dressing, sauce, and toppings on the side
Select items that are baked, grilled, broiled, poached, or steamed

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