Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dining out without pigging out...foods that are healthy

Well, I believe the spring weather is about to spring forth. Not only have I been able to ditch my jacket at home the past few days, I actually saw the first batch of flowers blooming this morning when I walked into the office. Just as a sidenote: I hated spring when I lived in the Midwest...probably because there really was no such season there. It could easily snow on a mid-April afternoon in Chicago. But in Atlanta, the weather is gorgeous by late March and the only thing you need to worry about is that pesky pollen problem.

Still, while I'm enjoying the warmer temperature, spring is typically an annual wake-up call - one reminding me to get back into shape before I have to start busting out the skimpy clothing again. So I'll be ramping up my workout efforts in upcoming days to prepare for the impending swimsuit season. At the same time, I've got a few St. Patty's Day parties looming, along with a never-ending stream of birthday dinners. So what's a girl got to do to stay in shape and eat healthy foods while maintaining an active social life? Here are a few dining-related tips that don't involve steering clear of restaurants altogether.

1. Avoid buffets. While economical, buffets make it too easy to load up the plate with an array of high-carb, high-calorie and high-fat foods.

2. Step away from the bread basket. If you'd like a roll, grab one then move it outside of your reaching distance. The same goes for chips, should you be at a Mexican restaurant. Grab a small handful than stay away from it the rest of the night.

3. Meal modifications are key. Feel free to make special requests. Ask the waiter if they can put the sauce on the side - or to substitute french fries with veggies. Find out if your meal can be made without butter, oil or salt...anything that could help cut down on calories.

4. Start out healthy. Consider ordering a light salad or soup to kick things off. This will help to fill you up before you dive into the big meal. You also might want to split your entree with a friend.

5. Practice portion control. Remember that restaurant sizes are often larger than normal. Consider eating half of your meal and putting the rest in a doggie bag.

6. Avoid all the bells and whistles. Don't add a bunch of extras to your meal. When it comes to a salad, avoid topping it off with buttery croutons, grated cheese, bacon and dollops of high-fat dressing. The same goes with a burger, baked potato and other entrees.

7. Don't binge drink at the dinner table. A glass or wine or two with your meal is one thing. But don't knock back a six-pack of beer or a few bottles of wine single-handedly. It's not good for you - and in more ways than just calories.

One more thing to digest...(Hee. See what I just did there? See?? Whatever. This is a tough crowd.)If you'd like to try your own hand at making a high-class restaurant-style meal, check out this dee-lish low calorie recipe from

Kevin Rathbun's Panang Curry Barbecue Chicken With Lemon Grass

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