So, we’ve talked about scaling down in body weight and working out, you know, to get chicks a little easier and not to die of an early heart attack. But there is always that ‘Hey, let’s head to Applebee’s after work’ factor with which we have to maneuver around. Eating out is the reality we live in and it can throw a kink into your diet. Do your homework before you head out for a night of dining and you won’t kill what you’ve worked so hard to get. Indulging on occasion is okay, but for the restaurant trips in-between, you need to be in the know when it comes to calorie counting.

Starches

A lot of bad things are said about starches when it comes to diets. Sure, the calorie count can be high, but we still need some starch in our lives. At least that’s what we’ve heard. French fries can be had on occasion provided they are not fried (more on this later), but a baked potato would be better. Rice – especially brown rice – would be an even better choice if you’re going to starch it out during your face-feeding visit. If you choose to do some sort of noodles or pasta, go whole wheat or rice noodles. The calories will be roughly the same as regular pasta, but the residuals from them will not be as brutal as the regular stuff.

Reminder: While a baked potato may be okay for you, sour cream on top of it is not.

Ditch the Cheese

Let’s take this a step further. Don’t do anything that comes from a cow. Not that cows are evil. We love cows. They are like giant dogs, just lazier. But dairy can help pack on the pounds and beef doesn’t help either. When ordering a sandwich, avoid the cheese and mayo. When getting a salad, ask for no cheese and do not order a cream-based dressing. These small measures cut the calories and helps retain the little energy you may have. We’re not scientists, but dairy is energy’s enemy. True ‘dat.

Reminder: Ask if the food was prepared in butter. Chefs like to soak food in the stuff.

Water vs. Soda…and Other Stuff

Don’t drink regular soda. That should be everyone’s rule. If you must have a soda with your meal, order a diet drink and only have one. Diet sodas aren’t exactly healthy for you, but they lack the massive amount of sugar that regular sodas possess. Lemonades and flavored drinks at restaurants will also have obscene amounts of sugar in them as well. Unsweetened tea is a safer bet and you can flavor it with a sugar substitute if needed. Be aware about the caffeine, though, if you are trying to quit that dependency. Most teas are loaded with the extra jolt of caffeine. And we love it.

Reminder: Stick with water. It makes for easier digestion.

Booze

Everyone knows that food goes down better with booze. It’s the first thing we learned after the ABC’s in kindergarten. At least it was in our school. If you must have an adult beverage with your food, go with a low-calorie beer or a glass of wine. And stick to only one or two, you lush. We know it’s a hard thing to do, but alcohol has something doctors call ‘empty calories’. How can something so bad taste so good? There are some things in life that can never be answered. And never will be answered.

Reminder: Have soda water as a mixer if you are doing the hard stuff. Less calories.

No Fried Things

This should be a set-in-stone rule for you. Just don’t do anything fried. If you order french fries — which should only be a special occasion for you — make sure they are baked instead of deep fried. Chicken and shrimp should be baked or grilled. Anything that comes crispy or has batter on it, just say no. Fried stuff packs calories on second only to things like cheesecake and cookie dough. And a bucket of lard drizzled in chocolate. Yum.

Reminder: Just pulling the fried batter off of a food does not make it ‘healthy’ again.

No Dessert

How many times have you been out to eat and after the meal feel like you are still hungry? Probably never. Yet, most people will still order up a dessert to complete their night of gluttony. Train yourself to recognize when enough is enough. Go into the place already knowing you won’t be doing dessert and it’ll be easier when your waiter (aka, the devil) comes by to push the 900 calorie dessert on you.

Reminder: Just because a dessert is listed as ‘low-calorie’ does not mean you should order it.

Look for the Heart Symbol on the Menu

Many places these days are trying to be health conscious, even though they continue to produce burgers that are loaded with 1,200 calories. Regardless, they are making it easier for you to eat out and not destroy your diet. Most of these places have a low-cal section on their menu and is usually marked with a heart symbol  — or something designating that it won’t induce immediate cardiac arrest. When you sit down to peruse your menu, look for such a section and keep your eyes off the rest of the menu. If they do not have this quadrant of the menu, follow the other steps to keep yourself in check. Otherwise, live the healthy section of the menu. And love it.

Reminder: Pay attention to sodium in the food, too. Having high blood pressure isn’t a walk in the park.

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