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WTOP saves your waistline when you dine out

Thursday - 2/23/2012, 4:36am  ET

fish dinner (Flickr/grendelsdj)
Opt for a lean fish or lean meat when eating out. (Flickr/grendelsdj)

Nathan Hager, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Dining out often can take a bite out of your wallet and pack on the pounds.

A recent study from the U.S Department of Agriculture found that just one restaurant entrée can add 239 calories to an obese person's daily caloric intake or 88 extra calories for an individual of average weight.

But with a little bit of planning, you may be able to enjoy a delicious dinner without bringing on the weight gain.

Try some of these suggestions from EverydayHealth.com:

  • Check the restaurant's menu online and plan out your dinner and dessert options before you leave the house.

  • Snack on a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit before you leave, so you won't overdo it on the bread basket before your appetizers arrive.

  • Ask for that bread to come with your meal instead of before. You're more likely to eat just one slice that way instead of several.

  • Skip the appetizers, or order more than one and make that your main course.

  • Take it easy on the alcohol. Drink sizes at restaurants may be larger than what you'd pour at home. Experts also recommend ordering either dessert or drinks, but not both.

  • Take the salad dressing on the side and skip the croutons. Pouring a fatty dressing yourself, rather than relying on your server to do it, could save you 100 calories.

  • For your main dish, choose lean meat or fish over something fried or sauteed.

  • Ask for a box before your meal instead of after, and set aside half the main course before you start eating. You may find yourself eating more slowly in relation to the smaller size of your meal, and feeling just as full as you would otherwise.

  • Share dessert, and take your post dinner coffee with non-fat milk instead of half and half.

  • If you don't get your order slimmed down to your satisfaction, send it back. Experts say you can eat healthier anywhere. The challenge is knowing what items on the menu are the best choices.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)