Eat out, Eat Smart

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One of my favorite things to do is try and explore new restaurants and food fests around the city. It can just be a lot -- a lot of food, a lot of drinks, and most importantly, a lot of fun. But, how to enjoy and stay balanced? For starters, being mindful like you would in any meal is highly encouraged -- don't eat while standing up/walking around, avoid eating too fast, and savor each bite as you go. Even with that said, there's a lot of traps out there that these tips will hopefully help you steer with caution to avoid:

- Consider your drink - choose water and unsweetened beverages! Avoid the fancy sodas. Better yet, enjoy your alcoholic drink before or after your main course to fully enjoy your food on it's own, without interruptions :)

Veggies! Start your meal with a salad to help you feel satisfied sooner (dressing on the side) + ask to TRIPLE the portion of veggies served! Oftentimes, restaurants won't up-charge for an extra-veggie portion and more times than not, they can swap in grilled or steamed veggies for anything else listed.

- Speaking of dressing on the side, dip or drizzle to avoid soppy salads or masking the flavor of your delicious greens. The "dip" or "fork" method is just that -- dip your fork in the dressing before you take a bite of greens for a touch of flavor!

Share a main dish OR select from the sides - order a side dish or an appetizer-sized portion instead of a regular entree. Restaurants may have smaller lunch or appetizer portions that are available any time of day and are actually closer to the portion of food that you should be eating on any occasion. With that said, knowing that restaurants often over-serve protein and starch sides, try eye-balling 

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- Ask to box your 1/2 your food before it comes! Trust me, this isn't weird -- people do it all the time! If you're at a work event or prix fixe meal that includes dessert no matter what, waiters will sometimes even ask if you want it to-go before plating, how nice ;)

- It may be obvious, but any description that uses the words creamy, breaded, crisp, sauced, or stuffed is likely loaded with hidden fats.

- Instead of the bread/chip basket, ask if veggies can be served with the dip or pre-appetizer plating. If you're going the bread/chip route, try not to eat straight from the basket.

- If all the above wasn't enough :), confirm how the food was prepared; don’t go by the menu. Similar to label/ingredient reading at the grocery store, sometimes you have to do a little more digging to find the whole scoop on the food you're eating!

Eat slowly. Control portions. Drink water throughout.