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Low Carb Tips for Eating Out

Posted May 06 2008 10:17am

From Judy Barnes Baker, author of Carb Wars; Sugar is the New Fat

1. Take along a low-carb tortilla when you go out to eat. That way, you can order any sandwich without the bread and turn it into a wrap. At a Mexican restaurant, put your tortilla in the container with the hot ones that come with your meal for a few minutes and you can enjoy a fresh, warm tortilla while saving about 20 grams of carbohydrate for each one.

2. Many restaurants offer protein plates and most will replace starchy side dishes with extra vegetables, fruit, soup, or salad if you ask. A salad with grilled chicken or steak is another option.

3. Ask for a cup of hot water and use your own de-caffeinated green or white tea bags and you can always have a healthful and delicious beverage without sugar or caffeine.

4. The all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants are a good choice for people with some will power. They usually have roast beef and chicken, baked fish, vegetables, and salads (use oil and vinegar for dressing), but you have to show some restraint at the dessert bar.

5. Keep a sugar-free chocolate bar, like ChocoPerfection, in your pocket or in your bag to help you resist ordering dessert. A little piece of chocolate is also the perfect antidote for those tempting little candies that the waiter brings with the check. (It also helps if you have sugar-free ice cream and other goodies waiting for you at home.)

6. Many sandwich shops will make any sandwich into a salad and many will put a burger in a lettuce-leaf wrapper or serve it with a knife and a fork.

7. Chinese food looks innocent, if you avoid the rice, since there are lots of vegetables, seafood, and meat, but most of the dishes have sauces containing sugar and starch. A safer choice would be the Mongolian wok-type places where you can choose your ingredients, which are then cooked for you on a large round grill. Skip the sauces they provide and use soy sauce and a little bit of Splenda sprinkled over your plate instead.

8. You can have Moo Shoo Pork or Peking Duck at a Chinese restaurant if you take along a few of my low-carb Crepes (recipe is in Carb Wars; Sugar is the New Fat) to use rather than the traditional Mandarin pancakes. (Low-carb flour tortillas also work.)

8. The more expensive restaurants are less likely to serve lots of starchy filler.

9. French food tends to be lower in carbs; Italian tends to be higher, since it usually includes both bread and pasta. American food is as bad, with both bread and potatoes. Mexican food generally comes with three starches: beans, rice, and tortillas. (You may be able to tolerate a small portion beans if you skip the rice and bring your own low-carb tortillas.)

10. Sometimes you have to eat what is available to keep from going hungry or offending a host. In this situation, you may find a starch-blocker helpful. It works by counteracting the digestive enzyme (alpha amylase) that converts starch into sugar (glucose) so that it can be used by the body. The active ingredient is an extract of white kidney beans, phaseolus vulgaris, or phase II for short. There are several of these on the market; look for one that lists only the extract of northern white kidney beans as an active ingredient, without stimulants or added sugar. Some starch is digested in your mouth, so it won’t help with that, and remember, it can only prevent the conversion of starch to sugar, so any sugar you eat still counts.

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