Submitted by ub on Tue, 03/20/2012 - 17:25

For many people, eating out is a way of life. Most of these meals are purely a matter of convenience: a sandwich from the supermarket deli counter, drive-through burgers, or take-out Mexican, or Chinese food.

Although meal planning and weight loss can be more difficult when you eat out, you can step into a restaurant prepared. Try the following to make your dining experience as healthy as it is enjoyable:

Ask how the food is prepared. Talking with the restaurant staff before you order about the various menu selections and how they’re prepared will help you make appropriate choices.

Look for less. Consume less saturated fat and fewer calories. Skinless chicken, fish, or lean meat that’s been broiled, poached, baked, or grilled is a more health-conscious option than fried foods or dishes prepared with heavy sauces.

Practice portion control. Use your estimating techniques to size up the food on your plate. If it looks like there’s more food on your plate than your meal plan calls for, section off the serving size you want and ask for a “doggie bag” to take the rest home.

Order an extra side of veggies. Non-starchy vegetables, such as green beans, broccoli, asparagus, or summer squash, will help you fill up with low calorie choices.

Do your research. Detailed nutrition information on various menu items is available for most fast-food chains. You can also visit company-specific websites for nutrition breakdowns, or call and request a pamphlet. Many locations display posters with this type of nutrition information.

Keep track of the time. If you take insulin and know your meal will be delayed, eat a roll or piece of fruit to tide you over.