Many weight-loss programs make eating out with friends difficult, if not impossible - where's the fun in that? If you want to visit with friends in the ambiance of an Italian restaurant, you should! When choosing a weight-loss system, make sure you pick one that allows you to go to restaurants whenever you want. For example, the Food Lovers Fat Loss Program provides you with the guidance you need to avoid overeating at these locations.

If you've been struggling to balance socializing at eateries and sticking to your weight-loss goals, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Avoid rushing
If you're someone who takes forever to order, you may get caught in the trap of rushing your decision. You don't want to hold up everyone else, so you choose the first thing that sounds good on the menu - usually this choice isn't the healthiest. Instead of letting the pressure get to you, plan ahead!

When your friends ask you to go out to dinner, look up the restaurant's menu. You can take as long as you want reading each description and figure out which meals will work with your weight-loss program. This is also the time to determine how you can modify the meal you'd like to eat. For example, instead of fried chicken, ask for grilled. This way, when you reach the restaurant, you'll be prepared and can order as soon as everyone else is ready.

Four women sitting at a restaurant patio eating lunch. Be smart about your menu choice when eating out with friends.

Choose wisely
When you're looking over the menu list, you should be keeping your goals in mind. An easy way to know if your choice is healthy is to simply pick something from the "light" section. Most restaurants offer a few meals they claim are 600 calories or fewer, so read through these first to see if any look good.

If you have no luck with the lighter meals, choose another dish and substitute ingredients to make a healthier plate. For example, instead of french fries, order a side of fresh fruit or veggies. 

Get a to-go box early
Portion sizes at restaurants are almost always way too big. You might feel compelled to clear your plate if you leave it all on there, so instead, ask for a to-go box as soon as you get your meal. Divide your food to fill your carb and protein needs, and then place the leftovers into the box and set it aside - now you have the proper proportions in front of you and an extra meal to take home for later!

Some people feel awkward asking for a to-go box so early. They're afraid it's poor manners, but get this idea out of your head. You should not be embarrassed by this action and should instead feel proud that you're taking your health seriously. Also, many people ask for the containers early, so it's not as uncommon as you might think.

If you still feel uncomfortable about getting a box early, try a different strategy. When you get your food, use your silverware to divide each dish into what you will eat now and what you'll eat later. This way, you don't have to get a to-go box early, but you've already determined what a good portion will be. 

Ask for the dressing on the side
While salads themselves are relatively healthy and low-calorie, the dressings used to flavor them are not. If you allow the cook to add the ranch to your salad, you might be doubling the amount of calories on the dish. Avoid this problem by having the dressing served on the side. You will have control over how much of the oil is spread on the salad and can give yourself a healthy amount. If you want to be really careful with your dressing, Food Lover's even suggest dipping the tines of your fork into the dressing and then spearing a few leaves for a bite. This method will give you that extra bit of flavor but will ensure you're not adding too much of the oil to the greens.

A small bowl of homemade salad dressing. Have your salad dressing served in an individual bowl so you can control the proportions.

Pick unsweetened beverages
Soda is the bane of weight-loss seekers everywhere. This sugary beverage is such a tempting treat, especially when you're eating out. Instead of giving in to this craving though, try choosing an unsweetened drink like water with a few slices of lemon or strawberry added to it or unsweetened iced tea. You'll still get a bit of flavor but no extra calories that you'll regret later.

Check out the Food Lovers Fat Loss program for even more helpful eating-out tips, including specific recommendations for popular restaurants. You can also join the My Food Lovers community and connect with others who are facing similar challenges. If you have a question, post to the forum to receive useful ideas, and before you know if you'll be reaching your weight-loss goals.

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