Nutrition 101

Keep It Light.

Dining out in the summer is one way to keep the kitchen cool. Many restaurants offer summer specials along with outside dining and fresh farm-to-table options. However, dining out can lead to overeating due to large portions sizes, tempting specials, fancy cocktails and decadent desserts. The following tips may be helpful to keep meals light, even when the temperatures and temptations soar.

  • No need to be shy: Many restaurants offer light seasonal menus in the summer with main course salads and fresh salsa instead of heavy sauces. But, even if the menu is the same at your favorite Italian restaurant, do not hesitate to ask for extra vegetables instead of that whopping side of pasta. Substitute fresh greens for French fries. Request a sandwich be served over salad instead of with bread.
  • Don’t be fooled by “low carb” menu claims: Just because a dish is described as “low-carb” does not necessarily mean it is low in calories or even a healthy option. Ask your server about ingredients and preparation methods if the menu description is vague or questionable.
  • Downsize Your meal: One of the biggest drawbacks about eating out are the huge serving sizes. Order an appetizer or side for your main course to avoid overeating.
  • Think Leftovers:  When ordering a large entree, ask your server to box half of your meal before it even reaches the table. This prevents overeating and makes it more likely that you will eat a meal that is more in tune with a healthy serving size.
  • Watch Your Salad Fixings:  Salads are only as light as their ingredients. To keep things light and healthy, be selective as to what you add to your salad. When adding ingredients, opt for lighter and healthier items like raw vegetables and fresh fruit. Add grains rather than croutons. Opt for vinegar and lemony dressing over creamy selections. Be sensible and enjoy bacon and cheese, but in moderation.
  • Just Say No:  While hard to do, consider opting out of the complementary bread basket. Hold the nacho chips and garlic knots. Instead, ask for a single roll or piece of bread. Request a salad or a plate of cut vegetables. While a basket of chips works for your table, hold off on the refills. You can avoid filling up on heavy foods you might regret eating when you head back into the warm summer air.
  • The Perfect Ending:  Dessert often seems like the “icing on the cake” to finish off a delicious meal. However, more likely than not, it is a calorie bomb. If you must indulge in dessert, enjoy fresh fruit, split a dessert or enjoy a cup of iced coffee or tea. Better yet, forgo the dessert altogether and take a walk after dinner.
  • Moderation Counts: Give in to your cravings once in a while. Staying healthy in the summer isn't about depriving your taste buds. It's about weighing those indulgent moments with healthful meals.

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