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Eating out has become a part of our daily lives, so what does this mean for our waistlines? When we eat out, we have less control over how the meal is prepared and how big the portion is. As a result, we can end up eating many more calories than we would have if we had eaten at home. Any dieter struggling to lose a few pounds will know how difficult it is to follow a diet when eating out, and how boring it is to sit at home while the rest of your friends are out enjoying themselves.

CHOOSE THE RESTAURANT CAREFULLY
Avoid restaurants that focus on fatty, fried foods. Rather opt for those that offer grills and bakes. Chinese and Japanese cuisines include vegetables, steamed rice, fish and chicken. You can opt for stir-fries rather than food that is deep-fried. Indian restaurants offer many vegtarian dishes that use beans, potatoes and legumes. If you are going Italian, then opt for tomato-based sauces on your pasta. Seafood is always a good idea, as fish is both a healthy and slimming option. Take the ambiance of the restaurant into consideration as well. Choose one that plays slow, soothing music. Research shows that you chew slower and therefore eat less if the music is slower.

READ THE MENU CAREFULLY
If you are not sure how a dish is prepared, ask your waiter. Remember that you as a customer, are important, so ask for what you want. If you are having a meat dish, ask for the fat to be trimmed off. Ask to have your sauces served seperately, or go without, so that you have some control over the calories in your meal. For example, if you are having grilled fish, rather than having tartare sauce, ask for lemon juice. Just 30ml of tartare sauce has about 500 kilojoules, whereas lemon juice has none. Don’t ask for anything that is cooked in a batter or fried. Grilled food is always best for anyone trying to lose weight. A piece of grilled chicken contains half the kilojoules of one fried in a batter. Ask for a side dish of crisp green salad. Be generous with the vinegar, and sparing on the oil. Fill up on the lettuce and cucumber rather than nibbling on bread rolls and Melba Toast. Ask for a baked potato with low fat cottage cheese or a sour cream dressing. Although they are low-fat, they will still melt into your potato to make a delicious accompaniment to your meal.

ALCOHOL AND BEVERAGES
Go easy on the alcoholic beverages. Start off with a mineral water, fresh fruit juice or diet cool drink to quench your thirst. If you do indulge, opt for a ‘lite’ beer or wine. Alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. As a general guide, go for dry. Stay away from sweet wines and liqueors as these are more fattening. Ask for a cube of ice in your white wine to make it go a little further.

DESSERT
Try and resist the urge to have dessert, but if you must, have fresh fruit. Be wary of fruit salad, as you have no control over the sugar content. Avoid trifles and cakes as these tend to be very high in calories. A far better option would be to skip dessert altogether and order a cappuccino with frothy milk.