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Weight Loss
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Eating low calorie in restaurants

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Hi, everybody!

Generally, I try to do 5 meals a day to keep my metabolism running. I divide my 1200 daily calories in a 200 calorie breakfast, two 60 calorie snacks and two main meals of around 400/450 calories. 

When I go out with my non-dieting friends to have dinner, I cannot help but feeling like a pariah. I don't seem to find ANYTHING in the menu that will not exceed the 450 calories. I always end up eating a salad. And even then, tons of restaurants don't even have a low calorie dressing alternative, so I end-up eating a taste-like-grass salad because I refuse to eat a 100 calories in greens and 300 calories in dressing.

It's even bothersome to have to ask the waiter/waitress to take of the caramelized pecans, the bacon, the cheese, the croutons, etc. They always look at me as if I were a picky eater, when in fact, the only thing I'm trying to do is to make my salad less caloric than a double-cheese hamburger.

So I wanted to know what are your choices when you eat out? Can you give me a few ideas of meals under 450 calories? Which restaurants have them?

Thanks! Your help is appreciated.

P/d I don't care about drinks. I like my margaritas/daiquiris alright, but I rather eat than drink those calories.

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The Problem is your planning of what you eat and when. Your biggest meal should be breakfast and your smallest meal dinner. This will help you to maintain or loose weight more effectively. One of the best things you can eat is grilled chicken. It is lean and is high in necessary protein. If it comes with bread eat it or dont eat it...its your choice. Good Luck!

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heres a start!

one of your problems is that you probably should eat more than 1200 calories a day!

Original Post by taylor_64:

heres a start!

one of your problems is that you probably should eat more than 1200 calories a day!

Unless you are privvy to her stats, I wouldn't make that assumption.  My calculator specifically tells me that 1200 calories is what I should be eating if I want to reach my goal by March 2010.


Remember what they say about assuming...

From a vegetarian perspective:

A small portion of pasta (any type, not filled) with napolitana sauce wont be more than 350 calories and you can add a tablespoon of parmesan for 22 calories = 372

A three egg omelet = 300 calories with a slice of toast (70 calories) and ask for grated cheese on the side (not melted inside, they always overdo it) = 470 calories

Stir fry : calories of veggies wont be more than 150. Allow for 1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil (150 calories) and 200 for rice or noodles = 500

Tramezzini (1 pita is 165 calories) with mozarella (160), mushrooms and tomato (make it 30 calories) and side salad without dressing or cheese = 385

Even a small nine inch margherita isn't too out of your target zone - 570 calories

Salad dressing on the side is a must and I love salad with foccacia: nice to share too!

Vegetable/vegetarian platters are good, provided you are selective about not eating the entire portion of some of the things served up. I'm talking about the spinach and pumpkin and crumbed mushrooms. Order a baked potato  as your starch (cream and butter on the side, don't touch it though) and use the creamed spinach as a sauce for the potato, not as a meal component. You invariably get a side salad with these platters. Release the mushrooms from their breaded encasements to save on all the oil soaked up by the coating. Potato about 200 calories, depending size, creamed spinach allow 150-200.

(When eating out, I log the individual ingredients on and add a tsbsp of vegetable oil for good measure because I know this is a restaurant's favourite ingredient :S)

My restuarant pick is grilled chicken sandwich, no bun, cheese, sauces, with a lil thing of bbq or sweet chili sauce on teh side. Paired with the salad you can usually sub out for fries, with dressing or vinagrette on teh side. I do the fork thing as well, which I learned from Jenny Craig. You dip the fork into dressing then stab some salad, and you use sooo llittle of the dressing, but it's still delcious!!!

lemon and pepper also make good dressings!

What kinds of restaurants are you going to? The advice to halve your meal immediately when it comes to your table is good, but it walk into any restaurant and basically say "I'm entirely disregarding your menu, I want a grilled chicken breast, prepared with no oil (what!? zero?!) and put some lettuce in front of me which I will dress myself" seems to defeat the purpose of going to a restaurant. If I were a chef, I'd be insulted.  Asking for nutritional information, or avoiding cream sauces, or choosing a small portion is one thing, but asking to completely re-write menu items is another. As another poster said, those requests probably won't get followed anyway.

its not disregarding the menu, its making changes to whats on the menu, and most places will do anything within reason to keep you as a customer. I have managed a restaurant for over eight years, and we go out of our way to please the customer, after all if it wasnt for them we would not be in business. I am sure the chef knows why people are asking for special requests, its not an insult. People make special requests due to various health reasons, and restaurants will usually accomadate.

I kind of agree-- it is not worth the money or pleasure deprivation to go out to eat and order a grilled chicken and steamed veg.  I can make that at home.  The point is, eat out less, and when you do save some calories for it, and make more healthy choices instead of getting anything and everything you want. 

In terms of surviving a road trip or other conveniences, the advice on what to get at fast food has been very helpful.  But a sit down place where you are spending $10, $15 plus, well, I wouldnt do it if there is nothing on the menu for you, and you dont have a larger calorie budget than most days.  If you are going to demand things, demand to eat from the kids menu!

Original Post by lizzarddc:

You mentioned "and even then, tons of restaurants don't even have a low calorie dressing alternative, so I end-up eating a taste-like-grass salad because I refuse to eat a 100 calories in greens and 300 calories in dressing."

If you can, bring your own dressing ahead of time.  Especially if you get the low-cal spray kind, it travels well with no mess.  You might get a few weird looks, but who cares!  It also may send a message to the restaurant that they need better choices...just depends on who is paying attention. 

 There are individual-portion packets of light salad dressings; I try to keep one in my purse for such events.  Usually restaurants will have at least one light dressing but I prefer the comfort of knowing that I have a personal favorite right at hand just in case. 

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