yeda_c1It can sometimes seem difficult to enjoy social occasions and stick to your healthy diet. Healthy eating when you're out can be a challenge, with larger portion sizes and more availability of high-fat foods.

This guide will help you work your way through the maze of food out there, and let you eat out confidentally while sticking to your weight loss goals!

Tips for wise selection

1. Select restaurants that can provide food cooked-to-order. Waiters and chefs in better restaurants are usually co-operative with special requests. The requests need only be simple, such as 'grilled with no fat or oil' ... 'salad with dressing served separately' ... 'no cheese sauce please'.

2. Telephone ahead before making reservations. Check the style of menu and the types of drinks available. Ask if meals can be prepared without the added fat, oils and sauces. Smorgasbords offer a wide selection of food, allowing you to choose sensibly.

3. Select carefully from the menu. Always ask about ingredients and cooking methods. Often this reveals a way of reducing the calories, for example 'The grilled fish is fine, but please leave off the butter sauce.'

Be aware that many 'grilled' dishes are often basted with fats or oils. Ask for fish or meat to be grilled without oil. If ordering chicken, leave the skin and just eat the meat.

4. Ask for small portions. Order two entrée dishes or ask for your main meal to be entre size.

5. Avoid foods with descriptions such as: sauteed, fried, crispy, battered, butter sauce, pan-fried, creamed, cream sauce, in its own gravy, in cheese sauce, escalloped, au lait, marinated, basted, casserole, prime, hollandaise, frittata.

6. Order salads without dressing, or with the salad dressing in a separate container.

7. Ask for a jug of water as a thirst quencher. Beer, wine and fruit juice can add excessive calories to a meal when consumed purely to quench thirst. Often restaurant food is highly seasoned or salted leading to continual thirst.

If you are a regular customer ask the owner to stock low joule drinks, mineral water and soda water.

8. Eat slowly - it will allow you to enjoy your meal and control your appetite. Don't be the first to finish a meal; pace yourself with the slowest eater.

9. Remember, you do not have to eat the entire meal. If the serving size is large then leave some on your plate.

10. Good restaurant owners appreciate feedback. Let them know if they catered sufficiently for your needs e.g. low-fat choices, low calorie drinks, smoke-free areas. They will respond to market needs if alerted to them.

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