Eating Out and Staying Slim: How to Eat Healthy at Delaware Restaurants
Yummy restaurant foods can kill any hopes of donning those bikinis. But there are ways to dine out without beefing up.
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Scott Thomas is on familiar terms with most of Sussex County’s restaurants. About 10 times a week, Thomas, the executive director of Southern Delaware Tourism, either goes out for a meal or grabs takeout. But all those banquets, staff lunches and dinner meetings can wreak havoc on his waistline. Thomas also has high cholesterol that requires medication.
To keep his weight and cholesterol in check, Thomas created guidelines. For one, he avoids anything white, be it rice, sugar, bread or potatoes. For another, he exchanges fried foods like chips for a healthier option. “I like the results,” he says. “If I can stay within those guidelines, then I’m less prone to worrying about what I eat.”
Having a plan before you crack a menu is a good strategy for anyone looking to maintain a healthy diet and still enjoy restaurant food. But it’s not the only one. Even if you don’t cook, educate yourself about what’s on the plate and how it’s prepared. Ask questions and learn about portion size. Don’t be shy when it comes to getting what you want.
“All restaurants serve healthy food” says Carol Arnott, an area gourmand who’s celebrated for her slim physique. “It’s just a matter of making healthy choices.”
An anniversary dinner or a girls’ night out might prompt you to skip lunch. But you might be so hungry by dinner that you’ll eat more than you’d initially planned. Moreover, some experts say that regularly skipping meals will slow down your metabolism.
Carl Georigi of the Platinum Dining Group is a fan of three daily meals, even if he’s going out that night. He often orders a lunchtime salad with a protein, such as tuna or chicken. “If I’m really hungry, I add a cup of soup to take the edge off,” says Georigi, whose restaurants include the new Taverna in Newark and Capers & Lemons in Wilmington.
The goal is to avoid diving into the breadbasket, which takes a beating in diet lore. And with good reason. “Your will power breaks down when you see warm, crusty, yeasty French bread,” says Gretchen Hanson, owner of Hobos Restaurant & Bar in Rehoboth Beach. “Ask the server not to even bring it to the table.”
At Culinaria in North Wilmington, the servers ask diners if they want bread and butter. They don’t automatically bring it. The practice avoids waste while it saves waistlines.
Like bread, a cocktail usually starts a meal. Alcohol, of course, contains calories. Few people, however, realize how much mixers can add to the count. Consider that a 12-ounce bottle of tonic water has 124 calories. Packaged juices are packed with sugar. Choose a spritzer, add Perrier to your wine, or order clear alcohol. Only ask for fruit juice if it’s freshly squeezed.
Salty bar snacks, meanwhile, are free for a reason. They make you thirsty enough to order that second icy beer. They up your caloric intake and your water weight.
Without bread and a light cocktail, you’ll probably want an appetizer. Keep in mind that appetizers are designed to arrive swiftly, Georigi says. That’s why so many restaurants have fried options. Turn a cold shoulder. “If I see a cold appetizer—crudo, sashimi, etc.—that is a healthier choice than fried anything,” he says.