Emma is a freelance writer currently living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on education and business. To see more from Emma, say hi to her on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2.

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Emma Sturgis

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By Emma Sturgis

Have you been working out and eating in moderation in order to stay fit? If so, the last thing you want to do is mess up your fitness strategy by over-consuming when you go out to eat at a restaurant. However, you probably also don't want to give up your social life to keep fit. These 3 strategies will help empower you to stick to your meal plan when you're eating out.

1. Check Out the Restaurant's Menu Before You Get There

These days, many restaurants post their menus online, enabling you to easily research the food that will be available to you at each establishment you plan to eat at. It's wise to do a bit of research before you show up at the restaurant to make sure you can find suitable entrée options that fit well with your meal plan.

As long as you're taking the time to research the restaurants you plan to visit, it's also ideal to check out some restaurant reviews using verified review websites like OpenTell . This step can really be helpful for determining whether your experience at the restaurant will meet your expectations. For example, when dieting, you might wish to skip ordering a particular dish at a restaurant if you find reviews complaining about that entrée being overly greasy.

2. Skip the High-Carb Starters and Opt for a Salad Instead

Many restaurants will start you off with carbohydrate-rich snack foods such as breads, crackers or chips and dip. Unless these are allowed on your meal plan, you'll probably want to skip them and start your meal off with a salad instead.

Salads do come with their own pitfalls and hazards to be aware of. You'll especially need to pay attention to the dressing used to flavor the salad. The oil used in the dressing is particularly important. You'll want to avoid hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats in favor of healthier alternatives like pure olive oil.

Lemon makes a flavorful salad dressing that gives your meal a nutritional boost.

It's a good idea to request that your salad dressing be served on the side. That way you can put it on yourself, taking care not to eat more of it than you really need to.

Avoid consuming salad toppings like bacon bits, ham crumbles or croutons, which add bunches of calories without adding much in the way of nutritional value.

3. Watch Out for the Calories Hidden in Drinks

Drinks can add a surprising number of calories to your meal, especially if you're tempted to indulge in drinks that resemble desserts such as milkshakes or fancy coffee beverages topped with chocolate and whipped cream. It is also all too easy to accidentally blow your diet with high-calorie sodas or carbohydrate-rich fruit juices, particularly when it comes to sugary combinations like strawberry lemonade.

Diet sodas might not add significant numbers of calories to your meal, but their high chemical content makes them unhealthy and challenging for your body to process. You're better off skipping the diet drinks in favor of choosing a healthier option.

Our advice is to train yourself to avoid looking at the drinks menu all together; there are too many tempting pitfalls and distractions to be found there. Instead ask the waiter to bring you a glass of water, which is the ideal beverage any time you eat at a restaurant. Water is usually free, and your body needs plenty of it. While it might not seem like the most exciting choice on the menu, it's guaranteed to be one of the healthiest choices, if not the healthiest.

If you utilize these three strategies ...    Continue

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