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Eating out is such a convenience it's fast, no need to clean up after meals and there is certainly a wide variety of gastronomical choices but when you're on a strict diet or just trying to eat healthy, a trip to your favorite restaurant can be a bit tricky. Here are some tips to get you started:

Have a plan. Know what you want and can eat. In that way when that cardboard showcasing all those scrumptious food and drinks is handed to you, you will no longer be confronted with a lot of choices. If you can, check the menu ahead of time.

Ask and you will receive. Don't be apprehensive about asking the restaurant for special orders. If you want your meal to be less salty, oily or want to trade pork with white chicken meat, then say so. The cook is often more than happy to oblige such requests.

On the side. When ordering salads or other dishes that require sauces, order the dressing or gravy on the side, so that you can have control over how much you put on your food. Or else, you can also bring your own dressing it's cheaper and healthier for you.

Half is good. Don't stuff yourself with food in one sitting. Eat slowly, chew your food and if you can, savor each flavor, think of how good it is and breathe. It usually takes your stomach a while to tell your brain that it is full. Do not be guilty about not finishing your food right there and then. Most of the meals served in restaurants are meant for two to four servings anyway. Just eat half and have the rest wrapped to go.

It's not what you eat, but what kind you eat. When ordering fish for example, go for salmon or tilapia which contains high protein. If it's steaks you like, a sirloin or tenderloin will be better that those prime ribs. Pasta with tomato-based sauce is a good choice than the cream-based ones made of cheese and other fat-laden ingredients. Tomato-based dishes are low in fat and calories and can also count as your dose of veggie. Same goes for soups: choose broth-based soups with veggies rather than those creamy ones.

Sugar isn't that bad unless you stuff yourself with too much hot fudge sundae and pastries. If you find yourself craving for some sweets, any fruit, and a fruit yogurt or sherbet are great substitutes. You can also try tasting just a spoonful of your tablemate's dessert. This may be enough to wash off that craving.

So, should you dine out or keep out? It's all up to you but when you have these tips, I can't see why you can't grab yourself a bite while enjoying the ambiance at your favorite restaurant.

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