The eating out culture has caught on in India in a really really big way. Till a decade back, restaurants were meant to cater only to young couples or college kids. They served as the dating point for couples and hanging out zone for the college crowd. But today restaurants serve to individuals, couples, families and groups. Rarely will you find a restaurant that is not full on weekends. Eating out is especially very common with couples who live alone. I mean, who’d bother to cook up a meal when its just for two people? Wouldnt it be so much simpler to eat out or order a pizza?

Thats the mindset these days, and its quite understandable really. The only downside is that restaurant food tends to make you gain weight. But surely you can avoid that if you make sensible choices. If you eat out quite frequently (more than twice a week), you should try to look for ways to make your meals healthier than they are. Heres how:

Start with a salad. The best way to consume less calories when eating out is to order a fresh green salad, without any dressing, as soon as you arrive. Fill up on the nutritious colorful salad and you will consume less of the unhealthy stuff. If you need a dressing, opt for a lemon and salt dressing.

Soups are another great way to start. Instead of ordering fried starters, begin with a soup. Tell the waiter to get you a clear soup. Avoid the corn starch.

Order a nutritious and healthy meal. This means that you should go for maximum vegetables in your meal. If you are a non-vegetarian, go for the fish instead of red meat. Chicken is also OK as long as it is not fried or cooked in loads of butter.

Specify what you want. We all know that Mughlai dishes are all made with rich gravies. Lots of butter, cream and cashew nuts go into those gravies. Why dont you tell the waiter that you dont want cream in your food? Or that you want food cooked in very little oil/butter. You can also tell him that you prefer your food to be cooked in olive oil, as against butter.

Pizza can be healthy too. Pizza does not have to be the enemy of good health. Ask the waiter if they serve a whole-wheat bread pizza. Ask for lots of vegetables on your pizza. And tell then to use half the amount of cheese they normally put on a pizza. And youve got yourself a healthy pizza!!!

Check the menu for any special offers for dieters. Many restaurants offer a few dishes that are low on calories. No harm in trying these out.

If the dish appears to be too big when it arrives, ask for it to be halved. Before you start eating, ask the waiter to divide it into two portions and pack one right away for you to take home.

Try to avoid the dessert. If you cannot completely say no to sweet nothings, go for a fruit salad. Similarly, avoid ordering fizzy drinks with your food. Sip on water as you eat. This will fill you up faster.

Avoid water for half an hour after you have finished eating. This will aid in proper digestion. If you eat out not so frequently, you will be OK no matter what you eat. But if you eat out often, a little care and caution will go a long way in keeping you healthy and fit. So be careful and enjoy eating out!!!

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