When you're on a diet, everything on the menu at a restaurant can appear daunting. Unlike home preparation, you can't tell what is put into food to make it tasty and attractive. Something that may look healthy can actually be laden with fat and salt, which can put your diet on a tail spin. If you want to pick the healthiest items on the menu, learn how to identify their fatty counterparts by their descriptions. Here are ways you can tell if a salad, pasta dish, or meat cuisine is a diet disaster, and how you can help battle the calories with subtle substitutions.
If a salad has a creamy dressing, then consider it fattening. Opt for a vinaigrette instead, or have the creamy dressing on the side so you can control how much you actually eat when you dip your leaves. Any salad that is described as having many toppings, such as hard boiled eggs, candied walnuts, bacon bits, or even sliced chicken, should be avoided in excess as well. Ask to have your toppings placed on the side of your dish and ask for extra tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers--the more vegetables you have in your salad, the fewer fattening toppings you'll be tempted to eat along with it.
Anything that comes in a cheesy, buttery, or creamy sauce is bound to be on the fattening side, so try to stick to pastas that come with a red, or marinara, sauce instead. If you love a creamy or buttery sauce, then choose healthy flavor enhancers, such as a garlic or rosemary butter glaze instead of a full helping of buttery or creamy sauce over your pasta. A creamy marinara sauce is a lovely compromise over choosing a thick cream sauce. You don't have to entirely skip the cheese--low-fat mozzarella or Parmesan in small amounts can flavor your dish without heaping on the calories.
When ordering pasta as your main dish, always ask for steamed vegetables on the side, then mix your veggies in with your noodles. The more vegetables you eat, the less noodles you consume, which helps lower your caloric intake as well. Besides, vegetables are always better when mixed with your favorite yummy sauce!
Any meat dish that has a glaze, gravy, or sauce is full of delicious flavor but loaded with calories as well. Opt for your meat--whether you choose fish, chicken, or steak--to be grilled on its own with herbs and a small amount of butter, and then ask for any accompanying toppings to be excluded or placed on the side. If your dish comes with a roll, bread sticks, or potatoes, substitute these high-calorie sides with fresh veggies or a bowl of broth-based soup instead. You'll have a filling meal you don't have to feel guilty about.
Identifying fattening items on the restaurant menu is one thing, knowing how to substitute for healthier options is another. Once you know how to do both you can eat at nearly any restaurant you want and still maintain your healthy diet.