Going out to dinner is just as much about the experience and company as it is the food. But if you’re trying to watch what you eat, dining out can present a real calorie conundrum. A dinner entree can average as many as 1,500 calories! And while it’s OK to splurge on occasion, if you’re not seeing the scale move, it might be worth swapping healthier options more often. Here are some satisfying ways to save up to 1,300 calories during your next dinner out.
RETHINK THE DRINK
A wine spritzer is half wine and half club soda. Spritzing it up saves half the calories in a glass of red or white wine and even more in a typical cocktail. The club soda helps keep you hydrated before the meal, with the bubbles sate your appetite momentarily while you wait for your dinner. Another reason to opt for a wine spritzer is they are lower in alcohol.
RETHINK YOUR SALAD
The oil and vinegar combo is not only lighter but the fat from the olive oil can help maximize your absorption of certain nutrients like carotenoids in salad greens and orange or yellow foods like carrots and red peppers. Also, keeping a bit of olive oil in the mix helps with satiety, delivers heart-healthy fats and adds flavor for a craveable salad.
RETHINK THE ENTRÉE
While a half cup of pasta is no big deal, the reality is most restaurant plates are piled high with a mountain of pasta. To keep your spaghetti and meatballs on the table, try spaghetti squash topped with the same meatballs and marinara from the kitchen. If the restaurant doesn’t have spaghetti squash (many now do), ask for zucchini noodles or a side of roasted broccoli instead. Though spaghetti squash and zoodles deliver on twirl-ability, the goal here is to make a veggie swap. Make it work with what’s available.
READ MORE > WHAT AN IDEAL 500-CALORIE DINNER LOOKS LIKE
Or prepare to share that cake with five other people! That mile-high, seven-layer chocolate cake can set you back around 1,000 calories, while a cup of cool, creamy, chocolate gelato would be closer to 300. Gelato has less air than ice cream, which boosts its smooth and creamy texture and ups the satisfaction factor. And though it’s far from a “health food,” because gelato is made from milk, you’ll get a little calcium and protein you might miss by simply choosing cake.
Total Savings: Approximately 1,300 calories