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Diet Series - Restaurants and Your Diet: August 09, 2011

Jaqui Siciliano is both a restaurant regular and a vegetarian. She finds the two often at odds.

“It’s very hard for me to go in just to - fly into - a restaurant and eat so usually I have to eat off the side dishes and create my own menu.”

“Often times what I find it that those diets tend to be carbohydrate heavy or fat heavy and its not meeting their protein and vitamin needs,” says Marjorie Chutkan, Clinical Dietician with Lee Memorial Health System.

It’s estimated 49% of every food dollar is spent in restaurants, meaning someone else is doing the cooking. Marjorie advises clients with diet strategies.

“Going out to restaurants, the one thing I always encourage my patients to do, watch your portion sizes.”

Sounds great to limit your portions, but not so easy when your plate is piled high. A good tip is to ask for a to-go container, before you eat.

“You should ask for your take away container at the beginning of the meal so you can portion out your meal and take that home have that as another meal,” says Chutkan.

If you’re monitoring your heart health, you’ll need to watch your fats. Marjorie has some tips:

“When you order your meals try to order foods that say baked, grilled roasted, stay away from the sauces.”

“If you have a salad it’s a good idea to keep your salad dressing on the side so that you can dip into it.”

People with celiac disease who need a gluten-free diet can’t rely on the menu alone. They need to ask about the restaurant’s food prep policy.

“If they’re preparing the food the gluten free food where they have already prepared other foods then your gluten food can get cross-contaminated,” says Chutkan.

Food for thought for anyone who’s watching what they eat. Including Jaqui, who hopes dining out doesn’t prove diet-busting.

“I try to encourage people to put a little more healthier items on their menu.”