Eating out doesn't mean pigging out

I don't eat out very often - is it OK if I splurge when I do?

Statistics show that people are eating out more then ever. According to trends, it will continue.

According to statisticbrain.com, there are 160,000 fast food restaurants serving 50 million Americans and earning an annual income of $110 billion dollars. Fast food was not even a top pick of favorite foods. According to an online survey by Mandala Research, 4,000 individuals were questioned about where they liked to eat. Italian food was first, Mexican food was second, Chinese food was third, and pizza was the fourth favorite food chosen.

Let's take a look at Italian food. Italian food is rich in carbohydrates with all the pasta, rice, and bread. Italian dishes are often served with rich cream sauces, lots of cheese, or oil-based sauces.

I looked up a popular Italian restaurant online. I thought for a moment if a person wants to splurge, what might that person order? I looked up the fettuccine alfredo. The fettuccine alfredo dinner portion provides 1,220 calories and 75 grams of fat. If two bread sticks were eaten, that added an additional 280 calories and 4 grams of fat. Then for dessert, if the white chocolate taspberry cheesecake was ordered, there are 890 calories and 62 grams of fat. That meal serves up 2,390 calories and 141 grams of fat. If one bread stick was eaten with the lunch portion of the fettuccine alfredo and the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake was shared with a friend, that would still account for 1,385 calories and 81 grams of fat.

When eating out, here are some points to keep in mind. Select low-fat, low-calorie foods.

When it comes to sauces, try to select tomato or seafood-based sauces (such as marinara or clam sauce). Consume breads without butter, salads with oil and vinegar dressing versus creamy dressing, and always have the dressing served on the side.

Have fresh fruit instead of sugary desserts. Some better selections include pasta primavera, pasta marinara, chicken cacciatore or fresh fish. Dishes that should be avoided due to the high fat and high calorie content include veal/chicken/eggplant parmesan, sausage dishes, beef lasagna, ravioli, breaded and fried foods.

If you are considering ordering something that is breaded or fried because it sounds good, ask if it can be baked or grilled.

Remember to watch your portion sizes! Take leftovers home. Ask that a to-go box be brought with your meal so that part of it can go right into the box and not be left on your plate, tempting you to consume more then you need.

Eating out doesn't have to throw you off track; a little knowledge will help you make good choices.