April Daniels Hussar, SELF magazine
Long gone are the days when women nibbled daintily on lettuce so as to appear "feminine" to potential suitors--and seriously, good riddance. Here at SELF, we like to eat. But what if you really are watching what you eat? (And yes, SELF often does too!) Do you have throw your diet out the window if you've got a hot dinner date?
Of course not, says SELF's Nutrition Blogger, Sarah-Jane Bedwell, RD. We checked in with Bedwell and Angela Ginn, RD, Spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to get their top tips for avoiding diet pitfalls while being wined and dined. After all--the important part of the date is what comes after dinner, amirite?
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1. Plan Ahead: "This is key!" says Ginn. "Get involved with choosing the restaurant, or go online and review the menu ahead of time so you have some good ideas about what you can order." Once that's done, you can focus on important things, like what to wear, duh.
2. Snack Beforehand: "Eat a smart snack of about 200 calories that includes protein and carbs--like apple with string cheese or yogurt--before going out so you won't be ravenous when you get there," says Bedwell. "This will not spoil your evening or your meal," adds Ginn, "but will curb your urge to overeat."
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3. Order Wisely: "Plan on a drink, appetizer or dessert, but not all three--unless you're sharing everything," recommends Bedwell. (BTW, she also suggests avoiding these foods.) When it comes to entrees, "Look for protein options that are 'baked', 'broiled', 'roasted' or 'grilled'--and watch out for fat words like 'golden brown', 'crispy' and 'batter-dipped,'" says Ginn. (Read: It's code for FRIED.) She also suggests avoiding the bead-basket (murderer of many a diet), and starting with a garden salad--dressing on the side, natch--or a broth-based soup.
4. Seek Out Swaps: "Make a special request to sub in a baked potato or the seasonal vegetable for the french fries," says Ginn. There's no shame in letting your date see you make healthy choices--and maybe you'll inspire him (or her!) too.
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5. Drink Smart: "Sip slow," says Ginn, as alcohol can range from 80 to 150 calories per serving. Sticking with one glass of wine or one mixed drink is your best bet; switch to sparkling water with a wedge of lime after that.
6. Don't Forget Dessert: You can enjoy a sweet post-meal, but follow what Ginn says: "Dessertis always better when shared!
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