Health & Wellness

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Eat healthy when dining out

Trying to lose weight or alter your diet? Many people are in the same boat. Though it's easy to control your diet when eating at home, men and women hoping to shed a few extra pounds may need to take a more careful approach when dining out at a restaurant or enjoying a meal at

the house of a friend or family member.

The following tips can help men and women eat healthy even when they are enjoying meals away from home.

* Don't skip meals. Skipping meals, especially breakfast, in anticipation of eating larger meals later on is a recipe for disaster. Research has shown that people who eat a healthy breakfast tend to consume fewer calories over the course of a typical day than those who skip breakfast.

* Have a pre-meal before dining out. Don't attend gatherings on an empty stomach. Snack on fruits or vegetables before heading out the door to avoid overeating later on.

* Drink lots of water. Sipping on a glass of cold water when dining out can keep you feeling full while preventing the dehydration that comes from eating too many high-sugar, high-salt goodies. In fact, symptoms of dehydration  mimic those of hunger, meaning you might be eating more when your body really just needs more water.

* Practice portion control. It's nice to dig in to your favorite treats. However, indulging at the dinner table can lead to weight gain. Many people find that they can still enjoy their favorite foods without gaining weight as long as they eat smaller portions and resist the temptation to eat until they feel the need to unbuckle their belts.

* Use smaller plates. The bigger the plate you are eating from, the more food you are likely to eat. Use smaller plates at the buffet line so you aren't piling too much food on your plate. An empty plate can instill a sense of fullness whether that plate is large or small.

* Give your body time to realize how much you have eaten. The stomach needs about 20 minutes to tell the brain that it's feeling full. But when food is eaten too fast, you may have already overindulged by the time the stomach sends its fullness signal to the brain. Fill up your plate, eat slowly and then put the brakes on for a while so that your stomach has adequate time to let the brain know you have eaten enough.

* Order the right sides. When choosing side dishes, opt for healthy, low-calorie and high-fiber vegetables instead of sides that are high in fat, sugar or sodium. Healthy sides will make you feel full without packing on the pounds.

Gadsden Times