Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Points Plus for Dining at your favorite Restaurants

Its always fun to eat out, but it can also be scary if you have no idea what you can choose to eat on the menu and remain on program.  Its important that we learn to make wise choices if we are going to keep the weight off once we get it off.  For that reason, I'm not too hard on myself during this learning process.  We're going to make some mistakes in what we order, but we can learn from it.  Its also good to learn that so many restaurants actually offer food that can fit into our lives, so there is no reason to avoid having fun with friends dining out.

So how do we figure it all out?

 Many of the big chain restaurants offer their nutritional data online.  Some even have it on their menus.  You can look up the restaurant online, or just Google "menu".  A whole host of restaurant menus come up. But what do you do when the restaurant menu you need is not available?  Here are some tips:

*Skip over the appetizers
*choose a garden or side salad instead, with the dressing on the side
*order a small steak or if the smallest they offer is 8oz - cut it in half and ask the server for a "doggie bag"
*order any grilled meat - cut off a regular size portion (about the size of your palm) and get the doggie bag for the rest
*order a baked potato - and it's easier to count the points if the butter/sour cream is on the side.
*be careful of the "big salads" with lots of "stuff on it" - it can be very difficult to calculate and can be deceivingly huge in pointsplus.
*share a dessert if you feel you really need something sweet - or just order fruit

If you cannot find the points value for your favorite local restaurant - perhaps you can find a similar menu item from a chain and use their pointsplus value as a way to guess-timate the points.

Of course, you may choose to use your Weekly PointsPlus Allowance for the night out - we all get 49 of them, but keep in mind that one large order of fries at 5 Guys restaurant contains 39pp, or the Chicken and Broccoli Pasta at Ruby Tuesday's is 42pp- so its always best to educate yourself before you go or you could bust through the 49 WPAs pretty quickly.

One final peice of advice - I'm giving you a link to a website that has a huge amount of restaurants and the pointsplus values for their menu items.  Many of the restaurants may not be from your area, as I found out for my area, too - but there are lots to choose from, so maybe you'll find what you are looking for:

I find that there are usually several selections that "work for me" at the restaurants we frequent.  Breakfast is usually McDonalds egg mcmuffin without cheese (6pp) and coffee...lunch there is usually the southwest salad with grilled chicken for 11pp with the entire package of salad dressing!  I am in love with the Steak and Potato Salad at Applebees - Fresh spinach, red peppers and onions, tomatoes and fresh basil tossed in a creamy Dijon vinaigrette, then topped with hard-boiled eggs and tender grilled sirloin steak, sliced and served over herb-steamed potatoes... 9pp!  Mmmm...yummy!

Tell me - what have you discovered "works for you" at restaurants?  I'm always looking to expand my options!!

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