Regardless of the type of restaurant you are dining in, the following ten tips will go a long way to ensure that you eat well while watching your waistline.
1. If possible, just before you go out, have a small bowl of high-fibre, green-light cold cereal (such as All-Bran) with skim milk and sweetener. I often add a couple of spoonfuls of fat-free fruit yogurt. This will take the edge off your appetite and get some fibre into your digestive system, which will help reduce the G.I. of your upcoming meal.
2. Once seated in the restaurant, drink a glass of water. It will help you feel fuller.
3. Remember to eat slowly to allow your brain the time it needs to realize you are full. Put your fork down between mouthfuls and savour your meal.
4. Once the basket of rolls or bread—which you will ignore—has been passed around the table, ask the server to remove it. The longer it sits, the more tempted you will be to dig in.
5. Order a soup or salad first and tell the server you would like this as soon as possible. This will keep you from sitting hungry while others are filling up on bread. For soups, go for vegetable or bean-based, the chunkier the better. Avoid any that are cream-based, such as vichyssoise. For salads, the golden rule is to keep the dressing on the side so you can use a fraction of what the restaurant would normally pour over your greens. Avoid Caesar salads, which come pre-dressed and often pack as many calories as a burger.
6. Since you probably won’t get boiled small or new potatoes and can’t always be sure of what kind of rice is being served, ask for a double serving of vegetables instead. I have yet to find a restaurant that won’t oblige.
7. Stick with low-fat cuts of meat or poultry. If necessary, you can remove the skin. Duck is usually too high in fat. Fish and shellfish are excellent choices but shouldn’t be breaded or battered. Tempura is more fat and flour than filling. Remember that servings tend to be generous in restaurants, so eat only 4 to 6 ounces (the size of a pack of cards) and leave the rest. Entrée sharing is also becoming a popular option.
8. As with salads, ask for any sauces or gravies to be served on the side.
9. For dessert, fresh fruit and berries—without the ice cream—are your best choice. If you are hankering for something sweet, sprinkle on some sweetener from one of the packages designed for coffee/tea. Most other desserts are a dietary disaster. My advice is to avoid dessert. If a birthday cake is being passed around, share your piece with someone. A couple of forkfuls with your decaf coffee should get you off the hook with minimal dietary damage!
10. Order only decaffeinated coffee. Skim-milk decaf cappuccino is our family’s favourite choice.
Excerpted from The G.I. Diet, Revised Copyright © 2009 by Rick Gallop. Excerpted by permission of Random House Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved.