Feb 21, 2009

MY DIVA DIET Restaurant Eating Guide: 52 Tips

MY DIVA DIET: A Woman's Last Diet Book (pages 268-275) Copyright 2007

Diva Reduction and Diva Maintenance
This guide can be used by MEN TOO!
NOTE to my vegan and vegetarian types: These tips are still useful–just omit the parts that do not apply to your dietary preferences.

Keep in mind, MY DIVA DIET is a fat-loss, get healthy diet plan that is stricter than these tips, but we want to offer a guide to help the reader eat out at restaurants the healthy and fit way. We also provide a guide called “Fast Food Five”. We offer many tools like this to make sure our readers succeed with their goals!

Restaurant Dining Meal Problems
• Too much fat, sodium, and sugar
• Too much white flour
• Too much alcohol
• Too many unfamiliar foods
• Too many people handling your food
• Overeating and late-night eating
Remember—you are the customer, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and make requests. Before ordering, always ask how a dish is prepared and what ingredients it contains. Then think of how you can substitute or eliminate something in your order.

#1 Water is best to drink. Try adding a slice of lemon or lime if you need flavor.
• Stay away from sodas and other sugary types of drinks, including juices, unless they are freshly squeezed.
• Coffee and tea are fine - no cream or sugar!

#2 Limit alcohol.
• Choose wine over exotic drinks like margaritas, piña coladas, and mai tais.
• Beer is not recommended.

#3 Choose your appetizers wisely, if at all.
• Appetizers are usually high in fat and calories and often contain “forbidden” foods.
• Don’t forget that you have a meal coming—maybe you don’t really need that appetizer.

#4 At some restaurants you can order a good appetizer that can actually be your main course. That way you won’t overeat and it will save you money. Just tell the server to bring it out when the other entrées come.

#5 Go light on all types of dips. Salsa is good but watch the chips and guacamole.

First Course
#6 Stay away from the bread. It is not only a poor choice but it will make you too full to eat the healthier part of your meal, like protein and veggies. Some bread every so often is okay, but eat it sparingly.

#7 Stay with broth-type instead of cream-type soups (a good choice would be vegetable soup or tomato soup).
• Cream soups are full of fat, sodium, white flour, and other unknown ingredients.
• Broth soups can be high in sodium but they have fewer calories, and it’s easier to figure out their ingredients.

#8 Salads and salad dishes are great, just order dressing on the side so you can control the amount you use.

#9 Be adventurous when choosing a salad: try a beet salad instead of a house or mixed-green salad. You will get more variety in raw vegetables and thus more nutrients.

#10 Be careful of crumbled cheese toppings added to salads.
• Blue cheese, feta, goat, fontina, and other cheeses may taste good but they are very high in calories and fat grams.
• Ask for crumbled cheese on the side so you can control the amount.

#11 Always choose low or non-fat dressings for all salads and veggies.
• Vinegar and lemon are good non-fat choices.
• Balsamic vinegar and olive oil are high in nutrients—just control the amount of oil.

Main Course
#12 Fish is an excellent entrée.
• Choose halibut, salmon, trout, tuna, whitefish, red snapper, and sea bass.
• Avoid swordfish, shark, and catfish.
• Avoid shellfish like crab, lobster, and shrimp.
• Avoid clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops.

#13 Poultry is always a safe and lean choice.
• Try to choose white meat over dark meat.
• Remove the skin (it’s full of fat). It’s easy to take off.

#14 Beef is all right—just choose lean cuts, and trim off the visible fat. Try to restrict beef to once or twice a month.
• Good choices are filet, New York, top sirloin, porterhouse, and T-bone.
• Lamb and veal are also fine, occasionally.

#15 Limit duck and avoid pork. Pigs are cute but they do not have the same digestive system as cows. And they not only eat the food they are given, but also anything else they can find.

#16 Watch out for foods that are not just plain fish, poultry, or beef (i.e. chicken chow mein, lobster ravioli, seafood pasta, etc.). These kinds of dishes have many ingredients like oil, butter, cream, white flour, and salt and are very high in calories. You can’t really calculate what you are eating and it is safe to say that you are getting more ingredients than the protein you need. Better to choose your main course as a single item.

#17 Bean dishes are great, just watch what is used in preparing them like lard, oil, and too much cheese.

#18 Corn tortillas are better than flour. Make sure they are not fried.

#19 Potatoes are great only if they are plain and either baked or boiled. Watch the toppings—butter, sour cream, chives, and bacon. Order your potato plain with the toppings on the side, be selective with topping choices, and use your toppings sparingly.

#20 Rice is good, but most restaurants cook rice with added oil and salt. The exceptions are Chinese and Japanese restaurants, where you can order plain rice. Skip the rice at other restaurants unless you know what is in it and how it was prepared. Find a health conscious restaurant that serves plain brown rice.

#21 Pasta and pasta dishes are okay occasionally. It is better to choose ones with marinara instead of cream sauce (like fettuccini Alfredo) due to the high fat content. A good idea is to use pasta as a side dish rather than a main dish (unless it is a special “cheat” night).

#22 All fresh (raw is best) vegetables are great.
• Watch for veggies that are prepared with oil, butter, sauce, and salt.
• Eat vegetables al dente, (or raw) which ensures the highest nutritional value.

#23 Make sure the food you order is fresh—not processed, canned, or frozen. Eat organic foods if possible. And try to seek out restaurants that serve kosher!

#24 Stay away from all fried foods.

#25 Stay away from all breaded foods.

#26 Make sure the food you order is baked, broiled, grilled, poached, or steamed.
• Stir-fry is acceptable.
• Stay clear of microwave cooking if at all possible.

#27 Have the chef go light on oil when preparing all foods. If oil is being used, ask if it is olive oil or an oil low in saturated fats and with no trans fats. Find out—it is your body and your money.

#28 Do not salt your food. There is plenty of sodium in your food when you are dining out, even when you are careful with ordering.

#29 All spices, herbs, and vegetables are great for enhancing the flavor of foods. Look for garlic, onions, leeks, basil, pepper, oregano, sage, and cinnamon, just to name a few. Hopefully, you have chosen a restaurant with a chef who is an expert at seasoning his dishes the healthy way.

#30 Go light on all sauces or gravies (or avoid them completely).
• Sauces are full of fat, sodium, white flour, and other ingredients you don’t need.
• If you do use them, ask for sauces and gravies on the side so you can control the amounts.

#31 Go light on condiments like mayonnaise and ketchup.
• Mustard and horseradish are good choices.
• Teriyaki, barbecue, and tomato sauce are okay on occasion.
• If you must use soy sauce, use the light kind.

#32 Go light on all oils and nuts, or any dish with these products.

#33 Go light on butter, cheese, sour cream, and other dairy products. A little Parmesan,
Romano, and feta cheese goes along way in flavor!

#34 Cheesecake, fruit cobblers, pies, crème brûlée, and other desserts taste yummy but are very high in calories and are mainly white flour, sugar, and fat.
• Try fruit desserts like mixed berries, which are full of fiber and antioxidants.
If you need the extra sweets, add a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side.
• Sorbet is another option, even with the sugar content. There are a variety of flavors and they taste great!
• A little spumoni or green tea ice cream is okay.

Note on desserts:
It is dessert, after all, so go for it—just don’t go for it every time. If you need to splurge and fruit or sorbet is not sufficient, then try ordering one big dessert and sharing it with your party or date.

#35 Ask that your eggs and omelets be made with whites only, with minimal butter or oil. That way, you cut the fat in half.
• Omelets are great if you add a variety of vegetables.
• For extra flavor, try adding some salsa and other herbs to your eggs.
• Egg Beaters are okay.

#36 Try to stay away from pancakes, waffles, crepes, etc. They are mainly white flour and sugar!

#37 Avoid bacon, ham, and sausages. These foods are high in fat, sodium, and cholesterol, and include many additives and preservatives—and you never know the quality of a restaurant product. Turkey sausage is okay occasionally.

#38 Skip bread and baked goods like donuts, pastries, and muffins—you’ll regret eating them later.
• A piece of rye or sourdough toast or a bagel is fine once in a while.
• You can add a small amount of natural fruit spread if you need that sweet flavor.

#39 Avoid hash browns, breakfast potatoes, and French fries. Potatoes are a great food but these are all fried in oil, so they are very high in fat even if they are cooked with a good fat. Some restaurants use frozen potatoes. If you are going to eat these it should only be once in a while, and you should find out if the potatoes are fresh or frozen, as wells as what kind of oil is used to cook them in.

#40 Go light on sugar, molasses, syrup, jams, and jellies. A little honey, agave nectar, or real-fruit “fruit spread” are better options.

#41 Sandwiches and wraps are more healthful if they are ordered on whole-wheat or multigrain breads, pita bread, flat bread, or tortilla wraps (like rice or corn tortillas) with low-fat meats, poultry, and fish.
• Be aware that deli meats are not fresh meats—they are processed, with many preservatives and additives. If you do select a deli sandwich occasionally, choose only lean chicken and turkey deli meats low in sugar, sodium and gluten-free.
• Add flavor and nutrients with veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, and olives.
• Ask your sandwich-maker to skip calorie pitfalls like cheese and avocado.
• Go light on the mayo—mustard is much better.

#42 Salad for lunch is a good idea and a great way to get your vegetables and protein.
• You can usually find a tasty chicken Caesar salad—just watch the dressing and ski the croutons (white flour).
• Chinese chicken salad is good too—just watch the amount of dressing and skip the chow-mein noodles (white flour).
• A mixed-green or beet salad with a side of chicken breast is a great idea.
• A good tuna salad also makes for a nice healthy lunch.

#43 Soup for lunch is great if you can find one that is full of fresh vegetables. A good chicken soup with lots of vegetables would work well here—just watch for ingredients like noodles (which are made with white flour and too much sodium).

#44 It’s okay to have a hamburger for lunch once in a while. Try to find burgers made with lean beef or ground turkey (kosher is best), or a vegetarian type. To boost nutritional value and reduce unneeded calories, skip the bread and add a side salad.

Other Tips and Notes
#45 To avoid overindulgence or overeating at a restaurant, try eating an apple an hour before dining out. This will help cut your appetite and control your food choices.

#46 If you know you will be dining out for dinner, plan on eating below your calorie
goal from your other meals that day. Avoid skipping meals, which may make you overeat at the restaurant.

#47 If you are trying to avoid alcohol but would still like to feel included with others who are drinking, ask that your water or beverage also be served in a wine glass.

#48 Restaurants tend to serve large portions. Try splitting a meal with a dining partner to control portion size.

#49 Order from the a la carte menu. Separate food items will not come with
extra sides like rice, potatoes, fries, or beans. This will help with portion control.

#50 If you are eating at a buffet (which is not a good idea), use a salad plate. Smaller portions equal fewer calories (and fewer poor food choices).

#51 Eat your food at a nice slow pace.
• When you eat slowly, your body will tell you when you are full and need to stop.
• Use chopsticks often, as this will force you to eat more slowly.
• Try to stop eating a few bites before you feel full.

#52 Finally, remember that you are dining out—splurging once in a while is good for you, so relax and enjoy yourself.

Bon appétit!


Birder said...

Why would you "avoid clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops"? They are a low calorie, high quality source of protein.

Christine Lakatos said...

Hi Birder and great question. You are correct when you say these types of seafood are low in calories and have protein, however, shellfish (including crabs, lobsters, shrimp, prawns, and crayfish) are actually considered crustacean (fish without scales). Shellfish were actually designed to purify the ocean (cleansing agents for natural water sources)–they are waste collectors of the sea! Keep in mind that the waste they collect (viruses, bacteria, parasites, and toxic waste) remain in the flesh of shellfish and can be passed on to humans who eat them! Also, some of these types of seafood are high in cholesterol!

There are much, much better choices of fish (with fins and scales): cod, flounder, haddock, halibut, perch, pollack, red snapper, sea bass, rainbow trout, and yellow fin tuna. Also, freshwater bass, bluefish, mullet, orange roughy, bluefin tuna, herring, mackerel, pompano, salmon, and sardines!
I hope that answers your question!