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Best Bets for Lunch and Dinner

Italian Restaurants

Even Italian food can help you get to your ideal size. Italian food isn't just pasta and breads; it includes fabulous meat and seafood dishes. Think veal piccata or scaloppini. Think fried calamari or mussels in a wine garlic sauce. Think fresh, sliced tomatoes with mozzarella and basil. Yes, you certainly can get a balanced meal and eat healthy at your favorite Italian eatery.

Good choices include the following:

  • Beef, poultry, veal, fish, pork, and seafood entrées and appetizers
  • Fresh salads such as Caesar and garden salads
  • Small side dishes of pasta
  • Fresh fruit, canolis, or cheesecake for dessert
  • Extra meatballs with spaghetti

Poorer choices include the following:

  • Pasta
  • Fettuccine alfredo
  • Filling up on bread and pasta

Bring home what you can't eat. Meatballs make a great breakfast, as do other entrée choices.

Asian Restaurants

Weighty Warning

Watch out for the huge portions served at Asian restaurants. Instead, stop when your stomach is comfortable before you are full and take the leftovers home, asking the waitperson to wrap the rice separately from the rest of the food. Or better yet, don't take the leftover rice home.

Asian cuisine is quite varied and, in this section, includes Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, and others. The same fundamentals apply here as to eating out in general. Make sure that you get enough protein and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Sometimes when you eat a dish that's stir-fried, it can be hard to judge whether you've had enough protein. It's one reason why so many people feel hungry soon after eating oriental food. They seemed to eat plenty, but the food didn't contain enough high-quality protein to keep their engine stoked and their metabolism high.

Many Asian restaurants use MSG—monosodium glutamate—as a flavor enhancer for their food. We recommend that you always ask the waitperson to keep it out of your food.

Good choices include the following:

  • Meat-, fish-, and seafood-based dishes. (Make sure that they contain more than just shreds of meat; they should have enough to make up an amount the size of a deck of cards.)
  • Stir-fried vegetables or vegetable side dishes. (Some oriental vegetable dishes are terrific.)
  • A taste of rice or noodles, but not a plateful.
  • The soups, provided they don't contain MSG.

Poorer choices include the following:

  • Filling up on rice or noodles
  • Stir-fried rice—too much starch, too little protein
  • Anything with MSG in it
  • Your fortune cookie (Read the fortune and pass on the starchy cookie.)

French Restaurants


No food is so powerful that it can make you fat. But by eating with wisdom, every food you eat—no matter what type—can support your weight loss and weight maintenance.

French cuisine in general offers excellently balanced meals and delicious food. Most often, the meals are made with fresh ingredients and don't contain preservatives and artificial ingredients.

Good choices include the following:

  • Meat, seafood, fish, and poultry entrées
  • Vegetables and salads
  • Desserts—crème brûlée, mousse, and cheesecake

Poorer choices include the following:

  • Eating too much of that great French bread
  • Eating quickly without savoring
  • Too much French wine

Other Ethnic Cuisines

No matter what the cuisine, whether it's Middle Eastern, German, Russian, South American, Indian, or any other, you can eat in ways that encourage your body to release weight if you follow these guidelines:

  • Eat only when you are hungry, at 0.
  • Stop eating at or below being satisfied, meaning at or below 5.
  • Make sure that you eat enough high-quality complete protein, at least 15 grams.
  • Make sure that you get at least one serving of fruit or vegetables and preferably two.
  • Avoid eating high-glycemic starches.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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