Stealth Dieting

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restaurant saladYou don't always want your dining companions to know that you're watching what you eat. This is especially true if you're eating out with business contacts, a first date or people you don't know well. You may have to just roll with it and do the best you can. Remember that it's best to be the last to order. By then, no one is paying attention to your choice. Keep in mind that you don't have to finish all the food on your plate. Below are some strategies and orders you can turn to if you find yourself wanting to keep your healthy eating out of the spotlight.

My Top Stealth Diet Tips

  • Make only one special request. If you don't want to become that annoying person who deconstructs every dish, asking the waiter to take out this and skim that and put most everything else on the side is not the way to go. Try to limit yourself to one special request. Be strategic with your choices. Swap the dressing on a salad to a vinaigrette dressing rather than a creamy one. Another simple and easy-to-manage request is, "Can I get double sauteed spinach (or whatever veggie), hold the risotto (or whatever starch), please?". 
  • Eat until you feel about 80% full and leave about 20% of what you're served on your plate. You won't go hungry because it takes about twenty minutes to feel full from a meal. If you leave the table 80% full, in twenty minutes you'll feel completely full on 20% less food. 
  • If you struggle with eating too quickly, choose "working foods." These are foods that slow you down, for example, mussels instead of scallops, a filet of beef that you have to cut as opposed to stew. A whole fish is an excellent choice. It's light and healthy and takes a long time to eat. Anything that is time consuming to eat will work to your advantage. 
  • Manage alcohol. Stick to one drink. Order a drink you aren't crazy about so you'll drink it slowly. Try vodka or scotch with soda instead of white wine, which can go down too quickly. Plus, a waiter can refill an empty wine glass. You have to order a refill on a mixed drink, thus giving you better control over your consumption. If everyone is drinking heavily, try ordering a club soda with lime - this looks enough like a mixed drink to fool people. And delay drinking for as long as you can. Try not to start until the appetizers arrive. And drink plenty of water.
  • Family-style group orders can be extra tricky. Check the menu in advance if you can so you'll be armed with a few good choices if you get the opportunity to put in your vote. With each course, try to suggest something healthy like a salad or a grilled protein for the entree. And always suggest side veggies. But remember to roll with the punches - the point is to have fun! So when the food comes, no matter what it is, no double dipping. Only add food to your plate once. And try to stay an arm's length away from dessert and claim you're stuffed.

My Top Stealth Orders

  • Eggs Benedict with sauce on the side. You can enjoy the two poached eggs and half of the English muffin plus a piece of the Canadian bacon.
  • Topless burger. Strip the top bun off that burger and load up on veggies. This is a great option for all those times that burgers are one of the few choices. A topless burger gives you some of the bread, but half of the calories. 
  • Grilled chicken Caesar with dressing on the side. You can request some oil and vinegar on the side and use that as dressing instead. Eat around the croutons.

Heather Bauer, RD CDN
Heather Bauer, RD CDN


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