OK, so last week I discussed which helpful solutions you can use when ordering a meal in a restaurant that will not sabotage your weight loss, muscle building or other fitness efforts. This week, for part two, I want to help you find more solutions in different types of restaurants. Ethnic restaurants often have a full range of healthful options.

Let's start with one of my favorites, Italian restaurants.  A good quality Italian restaurant usually serves vegetables sauteed in garlic and olive oil, chicken breast dishes, pasta and bean soups, pasta with marinara sauce or pesto. When you add tons of Parmesan cheese to your food is when you add too many calories. A good example of a balanced meal in an Italian restaurant would be a chicken breast dish combined with a serving of pasta marinara and a side of sauteed veggie. With this combination you have your lean protein, your fast carb and your slow carb. This combination will avoid storing the food as fat. In fact, it will actually help you to burn fat because your insulin levels won’t be spiked. To make sure of this, the portions should be of normal size, not super sized. If the portions are huge, I highly recommend eating half, then taking the other half home for lunch or dinner the next day.

Chinese restaurants have entire sections of their menus devoted to vegetable entrees that are main dishes made from broccoli, tofu, spinach, green beans and other ingredients that are available steamed instead of fried. There are also various soups, along with noodle and brown rice dishes. Only eat at Chinese restaurants that do not prepare their food with MSG (Monosodium Glutamate).

Mexican restaurants, and I don't mean Taco Bell, have lower calorie items such as chicken fajitas with vegetables or bean burritos (if prepared without lard and not stuffed full of cheese), which are lower in fat and free of cholesterol. Top them with salsa and have a serving of rice on the side. As with the free bread basket that I mentioned in last week’s discussion, ask the server to please take away the free basket of chips so you won't be tempted to sit there and eat most of your calories before your meal is even served.

Japanese restaurants are another of my favorites. They serve Miso soup, salads, fish and vegetable sushi - all of which are very low in fat and healthfully prepared. This would be another place where you can order brown rice instead of white and still combine it with other foods for a balanced meal. Try Sashimi style instead of sushi with rice to cut down on the extra carbs.

Thai restaurants also serve vegetable dishes with soft noodles, tofu, low fat sauces, soups and salads or you can have a chicken entree as well. My favorite is Thai barbecue chicken. I recommend staying away from the sauces made with cream.

Indian restaurants always have a great selection of vegetarian choices, which are delicious as are their soups. Turmeric or Curry spices used in Indian cooking have wonderful medicinal properties for lowering inflammation in the body. You can request that they use less oil and I would avoid the dishes made with dairy products.

Cuban restaurants can keep it simple too, with black beans, salsa, salad and plantains and many other options. There are many elements in Cuban cuisine that fit with American health consciousness. Grains, beans, and high fiber root vegetables figure prominently in the Cuban diet. Adobo (Cuban lime garlic marinade) makes a great marinade for low fat grilling, while Mojo, a Cuban table sauce is ideal for those who are trying to lighten up on sauces.

Ethiopian restaurants have some wonderful vegan dishes where they turn simple chickpeas, split peas, lentils, green beans and peppers into delightfully spiced meals eaten with thin soft bread instead of cutlery.

Many American restaurants and steak houses offer vegetarian selections and salad bars with lots of healthy options. Even our fast food restaurants are getting on the bandwagon offering healthier options as well. If you find yourself with no choice but having to eat at a fast food restaurant, a couple of choices you could check out is the Veggie Delite at Subway or the Garden Pita at Wendy's (hold the dressing) and have a baked potato with it instead of french fries. Also Denny's and Burger King offer a veggie burger.

Remember eating out in restaurants does not have to be intimidating, because you do have many choices and options.

Eat to live, don't live to eat.

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