Written by Dr. Susan Walker, ND

Are you trying to watch your waistline while dining out?  Do you try to order the healthy menu choice, but still find you’re gaining weight?  If you think eating out is sabotaging your diet efforts, you may be right!  Restaurant chefs can turn your good diet intentions upside down with the addition of unhealthy ingredients and cooking methods.  We can help you uncover the way restaurants sabotage your diet and what you can do about them.

    • Restaurant Saboteur #5 – You Shouldn’t Always Eat Your Veggies

Most people think ordering a side of vegetables is a healthy accompaniment to your meal.  However, you may be surprised to learn how fattening those vegetables can actually be.  Chefs normally sauté vegetables in oils or add butter or margarine to make them taste good.  Grilled vegetables aren’t much better as they are normally brushed with an oil-based marinade before grilling and then more oil is brushed on after grilling to make them look more appealing.  All this oil, butter or margarine can turn healthy vegetables into a high-fat side dish.  For healthy vegetables, order your veggies steamed or grilled and ask for no butter, margarine or oil to be added at any stage in the food preparation from beginning to end.

  • Restaurant Saboteur #4 – Salads Aren’t Always the Healthiest Option

With all the different salad dressings and toppings to choose from these days, it’s easy to see how salads can turn unhealthy. Check out how many calories are packed into some typical salad additions:

– 1 ladle (2 tbsp) of regular Italian salad dressing: 120 calories

– 1/4 cup regular cheddar cheese: 130 calories

– Crispy rice noodles: 60 calories

Salads, although usually a healthy food choice, can quickly turn into a fattening meal when one considers all the oil or mayonnaise used in salad dressings as well as the many other hidden fats in toppings such as cheese, bacon bits, croutons, or fried noodles. To avoid high-calorie and fat-laden salads, always ask for a low-fat dressing on the side and dip your fork into the dressing and smear your salad with your fork.  You will use less dressing than if you poured the salad dressing overtop your salad.

  • Restaurant Saboteur #3 – Sauces Can Give Your Meal an Unhealthy Spin

Sauces often make food taste delicious but they are not always healthy.  Sauces are typically loaded with calories due to their high sugar or fat content.  They also contain tons of sodium which can cause you to retain water, contribute to high blood pressure and generate a slew of other health problems.  To avoid sabotaging your meal, ask for sauces on the side and add a small amount to your food.

  • Restaurant Saboteur #2 – Egg White Omelets Aren’t Always Low in Fat!

A favourite breakfast for dieters is an egg white omelet.  The yolk contains the fat and cholesterol, so health-conscious people opt for the protein-rich egg white instead where available.  When prepared at home it’s easy to be prepared low fat. But when dining out, chefs add oil or butter to the pan before making your omelet and it’s typically more than just one serving of oil. When dining out, ask for your omelet to be prepared with no butter or oil.  Instead, ask them to use a non-fat cooking spray to coat the pan.

  • Restaurant Saboteur #1 – Tasty Breads May Be Smeared in Fat

Carbohydrates are the weakness of many who are on a weight loss program and bread seems to be especially tempting, especially when dining out. The breads at restaurants are often smeared with butter, garlic and oil. If the breads come to the table without additional fat there is always the option to add it with the butter or oil that often accompanies the basket.  Even grilled sandwich buns are greased with some form of fat to keep them from sticking to grill tops. To avoid taking in those extra calories, ask for your bread to come “dry” with no sign of butter, oil or other fats.  Additionally, choose whole grain or multigrain breads and limit yourself to one piece in order to stay within your calorie range and macronutrient balance.

If you dine out often, see U Weight Loss Approved Fast Food Options for more information, use the fast food and dining out guide in your Intelligent Health Guide or use U Weight Loss’ Food Trakker to calculate the nutritional breakdown of your food.  You can still have a life on the U Weight Loss program and we show you how to make intelligent choices that don’t hinder your weight loss efforts.