Sometimes you’re hungry, but you’re too tired to make dinner, or you haven’t gotten groceries lately, or maybe you even just want to have a day out with your spouse. Whatever your reason, you’ve decided to eat out, so we’ve got some important tips for you on how to do this and maintain your fitness diet.
It’s dinnertime, you’re eating out, and you’re hungry. As the server comes to your table, you have a decision to make. Will you enjoy an appetizer as you wait for your meal? For those who are calorie-conscious and trying to lose weight, this can be a tough decision. You can wait for your main dish or you can eat an appetizer and (if you’re smart) order a smaller meal. Like all food listed on the menu, there are both diet-friendly and diet-wrecking appetizer options.
Just have to get an appetizer? Go ahead. And while you’re at it, ask that half your main course be placed in a to-go box before being served to you. This small act will prevent your appetizer from pushing your calorie intake way over the limit.
Here are your best and worst choices.
Why not start your meal off with a salad instead of your typical appetizer choices? With the right ingredients and low-fat dressing, a leafy-green salad makes a wonderful, low-calorie appetizer. In fact, when you begin your meal with a salad, you’ll eat 10 percent less during your meal.
Most appetizer choices that include fresh vegetables are good choices. Try vegetables dipped in salsa or hummus. Made from ground chickpeas and sesame seeds, hummus is high in fiber so it’ll fill you up. Another good option is marinated and grilled veggie kabobs that include onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, and zucchini. Stuffed with cheese and breadcrumbs, stuffed mushrooms contain around 50 calories each, making them a decent option if you limit yourself to just a few.
A bowl of soup before your meal is another healthy option—but it needs to be the right kind of soup. Avoid cream-based soups and choose something like vegetable or tomato. A bowl of this kind of soup contains only 160 calories or so.
If you’d like to include more seafood in your diet, several types of seafood appetizer choices are diet-friendly. Shrimp dipped in tomato-based cocktail sauce is a low-calorie option and is also high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. A seared crab cake, not fried, will run you about 300 calories and 20 grams of fat, but can help fill you up if you’re planning to eat a smaller meal.
Unfortunately, most restaurant menus offer more of this second type of appetizer. When you’re most hungry, you’re at your weakest point in resisting poor food choices. Hence why it’s so easy to wreck your diet with a few bites of these first-course options.
Anything that’s fried should be off-limits. Take stuffed jalapeno poppers for instance. They may be full of flavor, but they’re also full of calories. A few of these suckers will cost you nearly 2,000 calories, 6,000 milligrams of sodium, and 135 grams of fat! A second horrible choice is a fried onion blossom. Also at nearly 2,000 calories, a fried onion has 161 grams of fat, and more than 4,000 milligrams of sodium. This is more than two times the amount of sodium you should eat in a day and more fat and calories than a full meal should contain.
It may be seafood, but New England clam chowder and fried calamari should be on your no-no list. Without any sauce, a portion of breaded, fried squid (calamari) contains 900 calories, 2,300 milligrams of sodium, and 54 grams of fat. The cream-base soup will run you around 630 calories.
If you didn’t guess already, add cheese fries, chili cheese nachos, and mozzarella sticks to your list. Combine cheese with fried breading, chips, or French fries and you’ve got a mouth-watering, highly fattening combination.
Spinach and artichokes sound healthy, but in a dip they do you little good. Anything cream-based and served with a mountain of chips should be avoided.
You may be out with friends and watching the big game, but you’d be smart to say no to chicken wings, especially if they’re dipped in a cream sauce like Ranch. The wings alone contain more than 700 calories. Add dressing and you’re up to 900.
The bottom line here is to make good choices from the beginning of your day to the end. Sure, it’s okay to have a cheat day once and a while, we encourage it, in fact! However, it’s easy to make healthy choices when out if you know what to look for. If you absolutely can’t resist getting an appetizer to start off your meal, make sure to pick something that won’t be filled with calories. And split it with your table, that way you’re eating less before your main course arrives.
Diet is extremely important when trying to lose weight, so be sure to stay vigilant when it comes to your food choices, otherwise you might be regretting those mozzarella sticks at boot camp the morning after!