Lorena Garcia's 6 Tips for Eating Healthy When Dining Out

Conde Nast Digital StudioConde Nast Digital StudioEmilia Murdoch, SELF

Whether you're attending a business lunch, enjoying a dinner date or celebrating a special event, dining out at a restaurant can sometimes be tricky when it comes to eating healthy. That's why we turned to chef and 'investor' on NBC's America's Next Great Restaurant Lorena Garcia for tips on eating outside your home. These guidelines won't make you feel any ounce of guilt or deprivation--trust us!

1. Keep It In The Fam
Garcia swears by eating family style. For example, for a party of six, instead of having each person ordering separate dishes, the whole table will order three or four different appetizers and two or three main courses to share.

"First of all, you can have a real taste of the restaurant," says Garcia. "And at the same time, you have the portion sizes of fewer dishes. You'll get a better understanding of the restaurant; you're watching portion control and it's more interactive." When sharing, Garcia recommends ordering a couple of interesting salads as a main course and an entree dish of grilled chicken, fish, or even meatballs.

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2. Always Put Your Dressing On The Side

Sauces can be a major killer to a healthy salad or protein entree. "Usually the sauces are so flavoring because many of restaurants tend to use fat in order to find consistency and that's what you want to stay away from," says Garcia.

3. Don't Over Compose
Stay away from the attention of over doing your meal. Garcia can't stress enough how important simplicity is when choosing any grub! "You can always have a burger but have it the right way," says Garcia. "Don't have a burger that is full of fat and butter, but instead change the bun for a lettuce wrap with your meat, maybe a piece of cheese, and mustard and you're done. You'll have a beautiful burger that you can enjoy, indulge in and feel full longer!"

4. Be Complex With Breakfast

The most important meal of the day, your first, should be your least constricted. Garcia suggests that even if you don't plan to lose weight, eat your carbs in the AM, as you will have the entire day to burn the calories.

"It's about how we eat," she says. "It's typical that we have our heaviest meals at night, but if you change this routine by ordering on the lighter side of a menu for dinner, or sharing a meal for dinner, it definitely helps."

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5. Consider The Way You Order
"You always have a choice to have the fried chicken or the oven-roasted chicken," said Garcia. "It's all about having control over your decisions." To keep portions in control, Garcia suggests ordering a lighter dish up front and adds, "You can always order more!" Steer clear of the descriptions like fried, sauteed in or stuffed on a menu and opt for food items that are prepared grilled, baked or smoked.

6. Indulge In Moderation
What girl would be happy without her sweets? Garcia stays satisfied by letting herself indulge in rational ways. "I have my days," says Garcia, who said she usually lets loose on Friday and Saturday nights. "When you have a bad day, you don't want to be watching what you're eating, you just want to go for it, right? So let's say I go out tonight and I say I want to indulge. I just watch what I eat the next day and try to eat in a healthier way but I always try to stay away from sauces and fried foods."

Many fruits in their natural stage of life offer the sweet or tart fix you might be craving. Try a piece of fresh fruit after your meal--it can prevent you from automatically ordering the chocolate brownie sundae filled with empty calories that may leave you feeling worse. "I always say to leave room for dessert," said Garcia. "Just order sixteen spoons and have everyone have a bite!"

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