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HOME::Self-Help / Self-Improvement

Top 7 Tips To Dine At The Restaurant The Low-Fat Way

By Raymond Lee

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Even if you eat a low-fat diet at home, it is often difficult to pass up high-fat items when dining at restaurants. A generation ago, this was not much of a problem. Eating out was a rare treat, take-out was a rarity and only a few pizza places delivered. Today, eating out is routine, many people would not survive without take-out, and all sorts of restaurants deliver. If you go out for lunch every day at work and eat out or take out a few other times each week, restaurants wind up as the source of one-third of your meals – or more. “Low-fat restaurant dining requires a few adjustments. With a little forethought and information, anyone can eat out without bulging out. Here are some tips to help you find your best restaurant bets.

  1. Clear Off Temptation

    As you are seated, ask that the bread and butter or chips be removed or served later with your meal. While you are waiting, sip water, club soda or herbal tea. If you do keep the bread basket, remember that breadsticks, rolls and French bread are lower in fat than croissants and most muffins.

  2. Ask Questions

    Even such presumably healthful dishes as broiled or grilled fish or skinless chicken can be smothered in high-fat sauces. Ask how sauces are prepared; if they are high in fat, ask for no sauce or sauce on the side. Ask for salad dressing on the side as well. Then dip your fork into the dressing before you spear any salad. That way, you get a little dressing – but not too much – with each bite.

  3. Know Your Ethnics

    Some ethnic cuisines – Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Middle Eastern and Japanese – tend to be low in fat. These cuisines generally do not deep-fry foods. Stir-fried foods are okay, but stay away from deep-fried Japanese tempura. Many dishes in these cuisines are prepared entirely without meats, sauces, and dairy products. Enjoy the many poultry, fish, seafood, vegetable and noodle dishes. In Asian cuisines, the pork and beef dishes include relatively small servings of meat, which helps keep their fat content low.

  4. Shun Cream Soups

    At lunch, look for cup-of-soup-and-half-sandwich combinations – as long as the soup is not “cream of something.” Combinations satisfy the need for variety. Vegetable and bean soups are nutritious, filling and usually low in fat. Soups with a chicken stock base are higher in fat, but they are still a better choice than a croissant ham-and-cheese sandwich.

  5. Get Savvy In Italian Restaurants

    It is hard to find low-fat lasagna, cannelloni, manicotti or saltimbocca. But chicken, fish, and seafood dishes become problems only when they are served parmigiana or covered with other cheeses or cream sauces. Tomato-based marinara sauces are lower in fat than pesto, which is lower than meat sauces or cream-based white Alfredo or cheese sauces.

  6. Plan Ahead

    A little forethought is better than hours of self-recrimination for what you should have done. It is no big deal to plan for low-fat dining out. If you are happy at home with a simple breakfast of toast and coffee or a bowl of cereal with skim milk, do not even look at the menu. Just order your usual meal and do not get tempted by the Belgian waffles or bacon-and-sour-cream omelet. If you are happy with a salad for lunch or a baked potato and a steamed vegetable for dinner, do not look at the menu. Just order them.

  7. Beware Of Booze

    Alcohol is surprisingly high in calories (more than 100 calories per ounce). If you drink beer, wine or cocktails with dinner, drink water or iced tea at the same time to quench your thirst, and help you nurse your drink. If you enjoy wine with lunch or dinner, order it by the glass. That way you won’t feel obligated to polish off a whole bottle.

Raymond Lee is one of the foremost experts in the health and fitness industry and is the Founder of Bodyfixes Group specializing in body health, muscle development and dieting. He is currently the author of the latest edition of "Neck Exercises and Workouts." Visit for more information.


Article Submitted On: January 25, 2008