Eating out often packs on the pounds. Here are some tips to help you enjoy your food and stay trim.

Eating out is always a trip up the guilt street for me because I cannot stop myself from enjoying gastronomically delightful food. The perfectly tempered, textured and presented stuff has my eyes glazing over and my taste buds celebrating. The more I ate, the more I wanted. All was well, till one day, after an adventure through food road, I returned home to see a big woman bursting out of her jeans staring at me from the mirror.

Who ever created fat? I mean, can’t a body weigh as much as it consumes? If I eat 100 gm of fat, I need to be only 100 gm heavier, right?

But no. “It all adds up,” my nutritionist friends say. “You’ve got to watch what you eat, especially as you age.” The metabolism slows down and all that stuff.

Question of balance

I tried pouring positive thoughts into my body, telling it to reject the fat and absorb only what it needs to keep me healthy. But my body wouldn’t listen. It is a stubborn entity with a mind of its own. So I decided to do the next best thing. Eat out but try a few tricks to help me enjoy my outings sans the guilt.

Binging on good food once in a while is not the problem. The problem arises when you eat out every day. The trick is to balance it out with healthy eating the rest of the time.

Always begin with a low cal salad or soup if you want to start your meal with something hot. Go for the clear soup with lots of veggies instead of that cloudy gummy semi-solid that passes for soup in some restaurants. Clear also means fewer calories, obviously. Ask your waiter to add extra broccoli. It is rich in nutrients and antioxidants.

Eat with a friend. Or many friends who watch what they put into their mouths and tummies. It helps and you will consume fewer calories.

Ask the restaurant if they do half servings. Many do. That way you don’t feel guilty about so much food being doggy bagged or wasted and pay less in the bargain.

Before you load your plate at a buffet, taste a tiny bit. Do you like it? Is it worth the calories you will add to your body? Take more of what you like and shun what you don’t.

Once the main course is over, play a little mind game. If you don’t eat dessert will you feel deprived? Will you feel you missed out on something, say, next week? If yes, go ahead, have a little bite. If no, stay away.

Call ahead and ask the restaurant if they have grilled options for the fried stuff. That way you cut down on ‘fat’ calorie consumption by up to 30 per cent while still enjoying the taste and the added bonus of virtuousness, which goes a long way.

Drink plenty of water instead of packing on empty calories from fizzy drinks or getting a sugar overload from canned juices. Water works wonders for the skin, flushing out the toxins and also fills you up, so you don’t over eat.

Avoid monosodium glutamate (Aji no moto). Make sure to ask for your food to be cooked without it.

Some restaurants serve really large portions. Doesn’t mean you have to eat it all. Don’t be shy to ask for it to be packed. and

One last important tip: ask restaurants that serve French Fries along with sandwiches if they could serve some crunchy fresh salad instead. It’s colourful, less greasy and more nutritious.

All it takes is a mindset to keep that body slim, healthy and glowing.