The weight loss game is hard. If you enjoy eating out frequently, it's even more challenging having to dodge restaurant calorie traps everywhere you go. "Eat This, Not That!" compiled a list of common deceptive restaurant practices, and ways to avoid them.
1. Practice #1 involves using healthy-sounding words, such as "whole-grain," to describe unhealthy foods. To be on the safe side, look for words describing how a food is prepared, such as fried, glazed or frosted, to get a better idea of how good it really is for you.
2. Some restaurants try to align themselves with the current weight loss trends by offering a "low carb" menu. For instance, Applebee's Low Carb Breakfast Bowl is very low in carbs, but it also happens to contain 52 grams of fat. Don't be fooled by low-carb offerings; calories, fat and nutrition still matter. Strive for a healthy balance.
3. Some restaurants fool patrons into thinking a meal is smaller than it really is by calling it a "snack," when in reality it is a high-calorie item. To save yourself the guilt and promote weight loss, pack your own healthy snacks of fruits, nuts and vegetables, and save the restaurant trips for actual meals.
4. Restaurants use decoy marketing techniques, such as offering a salad as a side option, to get patrons to order fattier foods. When looking at the menu, remind yourself of your weight loss goals and order accordingly.
5. Some restaurants offer healthy foods that become terrible once the toppings are added. Don't be afraid to customize your order and only ask for the healthy toppings you want, such as mustard, lettuce and tomatoes.
6. Smoothies are a big restaurant decoy. Fruit always sounds like a healthy option, but it isn't when drowned in sugar or cream and blended. To be safe, make your own smoothies at home; this way, you'll know exactly what goes into them.
7. Another restaurant ploy is topping unhealthy dessert items with fruit to make them sound healthier. Just remember, topping something with fruit doesn't make it a healthy food. It only adds calories to the bottom line.
8. Many restaurants offer grilled options for the weight-conscious patron. However, their grilling process most likely involves a generous slather of butter or oil. If "flame-grilled" is not an option, ask for your food broiled.
9. Many restaurants use the word "natural" to entice dieters into thinking that an item is healthy. Remember, most restaurants use the word "natural" without actually proving an item really is organic or free of preservatives or additives.
10.To appeal to people focused on weight loss, many restaurants offer meat-free options like veggie burgers. Consider the other ingredients, such as cheese, mayonnaise or other fatty toppings, before automatically assuming the veggie burger is the better choice.
11.Some restaurants offer "share-able" sizes of appetizers and entrees. But if you don't know exactly how many people a dish is intended to feed, you could end up consuming a lot more calories than you bargained for. When in doubt, always ask how many people a dish serves.
No matter what restaurant you choose, experts advise focusing on healthy options like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and seafood. Also, eat slowly and mindfully. For lasting weight loss, make healthy foods a habit.
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