Dining Out Smarter

When you’re planning meals for your family at home it is much easier to adhere to a healthy eating plan and monitor how well everyone is eating. Eating out at restaurants presents a new set of challenges, but it can still be done!

The book Combat Fat for Kids is the ultimate guide to building a healthy lifestyle for the whole family and fighting childhood obesity. Below are some helpful suggestions the authors offer to help you and the whole family make healthy eating choices while dining out:

1. Start the meal by ordering salads that are packed with vegetables for the whole family. It will help control hunger and help your family feel satisfied sooner.

2. If entrees are big, ask for an extra plate and split them with another family member. Remember, it’s not always necessary for your child to clean his plate as long as he has eaten a balanced and filling meal. It’s also fine to ask your waiter to box up some of the meal and take leftovers home with you.

3. Ask your waiter how the foods are prepared so that your family can make wise selections from the menu. There is nothing wrong with asking questions about whether or not the meal is deep-fried, grilled, or baked. Try to stick with meals that are blackened, grilled, broiled, baked, boiled, or stir-fried.

4. Understand that it’s acceptable to ask for sauce, gravy, and spreads to be left off from meals or placed on the side so that the amount can be monitored. The same principle applies when ordering salads. Asking for dressings or sauces on the side makes it easier to control portions. A little can go a long way with fatty or calorie-laden toppings.

5. Order menu items instead of the all-you-can-eat buffet. There is a much greater chance of overeating and losing sight of portion control when family members are loading their plates at the buffet and can make multiple trips to refill.

6. If your family splurges for dessert when dining out, try to order a fruit-based dessert or split the dessert into smaller portions. It’s not necessary to ban all desserts. Instead, simply reduce how often and how much of them your kids eats.

Reprinted with permission from Combat Fat for Kids. ISBN: 978-1-57826-458-2, $9.99 (ebook). ISBN: 978-1-57826-396-7, $15.00 (paperback). New from Hatherleigh Press. Distributed by Random House.