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Eat Out Without Blowing It

If you're like many people, you eat out a lot. According to the USDA, 57 percent of Americans eat at least one meal or snack away from home every day. Whether it's at lunch with your work buddies, Friday-night outings with the kids or dinner with friends and family, your success on Atkins will be impacted by the menu choices you make. Fortunately, you can stay true to the program and still eat out almost anywhere, as long as you pick and choose carefully.

Regardless of cuisine or price point, all restaurants have some things in common:

  1. They're in the service business. And they love repeat customers. Don't hesitate to ask what's in a dish. There's no need to explain why you're interested. Specify any changes you want, such as salad dressing and any sauces on the side; and ask that the bread basket, chips and salsa not be placed on the table.
  2. Don't believe the menu. Although many major chains and some restaurants have done their homework, just because a dish is listed as “healthy" or “low-carb" doesn't mean that it actually is. If carb counts aren't listed, take any claims with a large grain of salt.
  3. Exercise portion control. Most chains and many other restaurants have supersized their portions. You can always take leftovers home in a “doggie bag."
  4. Play it safe with a salad. Just be sure to order dressing that has an oil-and-vinegar base, whether French, Italian or Greek. Mayo is fine on occasion, as is blue-cheese dressing, which is either mayo- or, preferably, sour-cream-based. Get it on the side for portion control, and ditch any croutons.
  5. Ask your server about the dressing and pass on it if you're not satisfied with the explanation. Many packaged dressings are full of sugar, cornstarch or corn syrup.
  6. Preview the menu. Even smaller restaurants often post their menus online. Decide what you're going to order before you arrive, so you won't be tempted to order less-suitable dishes.
  7. Steer clear of temptation. If you're concerned that eating in a Mexican restaurant, for example, could tempt you with longtime high-carb favorites, go somewhere else.

Make Your Order Low Carb

Follow these six simple rules and you should be able to enjoy your meal without sabotaging your low-carb weight-management program.

  1. Select simple grilled, broiled, or roasted meats and fish.
  2. Avoid deep-fried dishes, which are breaded and may contain harmful trans fats.
  3. Pass on stews, which may contain potatoes or other starchy vegetables.
  4. Steer clear of gravy, which is almost always thickened with flour or cornstarch.
  5. In lieu of potatoes or another starch, ask for a side salad or an additional portion of (hopefully) fresh vegetables.
  6. Order berries and whipped cream for dessert once you're out of Induction.

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