If I had a dollar for every time one of my clients or friends asked me about what to eat when they go out to a restaurant, I could buy my own restaurant. Here is the deal, first of all do not let going out to eat intimidate you. You have many choices and making the right ones are key to maintaining your health, weight loss or muscle building goals. Here is a list of 14 choices you can make the next time you go out to eat:

1. Slow down and take smaller bites, take your time and chew your food well. Inhaling or gulping your food results in larger amounts of food entering the stomach at one time. This is bad for digestion and absorption of the nutrients in the food and can leave you feeling bloated and too full. Eating slower will help to keep you from overeating because it takes your brain about 20 minutes to register when you are full.

2. Do your best to order your food either grilled, broiled, baked or steamed. These cooking choices remove fat during the cooking process as opposed to frying or deep frying which ads tons more fat and calories.

3. Send away the free breadbasket. If it is not on the table while you are eating you won't be tempted and your belly won't have to pay for it later. If the person you’re dining with wants bread then have them take what they want and send the rest back.

4. Book your reservations early so you’re not eating late in the evening. Some experts would say that it is the total calories consumed in a day that causes weight gain and a small amount of carbs in the evening is OK, and I would agree, but restaurant dinners contain more than just a small amount of carbs. Therefore, the excess calories get stored as fat because of the spike in your insulin levels which causes fat storage while you sleep.

5. Skip the salt. Enough salt has already been added to your food during preparation. Too much salt is connected to heart and kidney disease. Bottom line; do not add salt to your food.

6. Ask your server if you can order your veggies steamed lightly or served to you raw. Cooking destroys much of the nutritional value. Restaurants typically boil the veggies, which destroys 50 to 75 percent of the vitamins and minerals.

7. When eating out for breakfast ask for oatmeal instead of the bread that typically comes with your meal. You do need the carbs for building muscle so order a carb that will not spike your insulin level and be stored as fat. You can also ask for fruit or tomato slices as a substitute for items on the menu that contain too much fat.

8. Skip the appetizers. Do you have appetizers at home before dinner? Restaurant appetizers are a great money grab for them. Enjoy a nice entree and don't get filled up and pay for food your body does not need.

9. Limit the dressings and sauces, ask that your sandwich be made with more mustard than mayo and if your meal comes with sauce, ask to have it served on the side so you can control the amount going into your meal. Or better yet, ask that they hold the sauce.

10. Never order sodas, always have water served with lemon or lime and unsweetened ice tea. Drinking sodas at mealtime, with the unlimited refills can add on 500 extra calories. This includes diet sodas too.

11. Never be afraid to customize your meal, if a restaurant will not serve your food the way you need it, get up and leave.

12. Save the alcohol for special occasions. Not only is alcohol in restaurants overpriced but it costs your waistline seven calories for every gram and impairs your thinking leading to ordering foods like extra bread, fried foods and desserts.

13. When finishing your dinner with a coffee, cappuccino, or espresso, only sweeten it with a sugar substitute. The ideal would be to avoid all sugars and artificial sweeteners, but I don't want to kill all of your fun.

14. Leave the table hungry and you will lose weight. Leave the table satisfied and you’ll maintain weight. Leave the table full and you will gain weight.

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