A woman sits at a restaurant studying the menu with furrowed brow. She has begun an exercise routine and knows that her frequent meals out could slow her weight loss results if she wasn’t careful.

When the waiter comes she is still deep in thought over what to order. “What can I get for you?” he asks with a smile. She looks up and frowns, no closer to arriving at a decision. On a whim she blurts out, “I’m trying to eat healthy but I have no idea what to order. What do you think I should eat?”

The young waiter looks startled but quickly rattles off his idea of a healthy meal. “The eggplant and roasted pepper pasta is filled with vegetables. You could get that with a salad.”

The woman smiles. Yes, vegetables do sound healthy. So she orders the veggie pasta with a side salad and a diet soda, then sits back to enjoy a few slices of bread.

That’s a true story. Not surprisingly the woman was unable to lose weight even though she was exercising regularly.

It is said that 80% of your weight loss results are derived from diet, and the remaining 20% from exercise—so you can see how important it is for you to stick with a healthy eating plan.

Use the following tips as your guide to eating out right:

Appetizers
Appetizers are a great way to start out a leisurely meal, but can also derail your good intentions with a quickness.

Don’t Order

  • Anything fried. Fried foods are a favorite, but will do damage that even the most intense workout won’t undo.
  • Creamy dips. These are filled with fat and usually come with something fried to dip in it.
  • Bread. It comes smothered in cheese or seeped in butter, and even when it’s plain it fills you up with more carbohydrates than your body needs.

Do Order

  • Green salad. Ask for very light dressing and no croutons.
  • Antipasto. A plate of thinly sliced meats, olives and cheese will start you off with some protein.
  • Lettuce wraps. These are delicious, protein-filled and low in carbs.

Beverages
Calories in drinks are sneaky because they don’t fill you up. This means that you end up taking in far more calories than you bargained for.

Don’t Order

  • Regular or diet soda. On one hand you’re drinking corn syrup through a straw, on the other you’re drinking chemicals that cause you to crave sweets. It’s a no win situation.
  • Sweet cocktails. Many restaurants are advertizing sweet cocktails –resist the urge. Sugar plus alcohol equals loads of unneeded calories.
  • Sweetened tea. You may feel righteous for ordering iced tea, but if it’s sweetened then you may as well be drinking fully loaded soda.

Do Order

  • Water. Don’t laugh! Water is the best beverage of all.
  • Unsweetened iced tea. Don’t ruin it by adding that packet of sugar. Learn to enjoy the natural sweetness to the tea.
  • Red wine. Stick to one glass, and drink responsibly.

Entrees
This is where the real damage is done. When you order something carb-loaded you leave the restaurant feeling heavy and lethargic—you may not even realize this until you start eating better and experience the light, energetic way you’ll feel after eating a healthy meal.

Don’t Order

  • Pasta. I don’t care if it comes with red sauce or white sauce, meat or veggies. If you’re trying to lose weight and maintain a lean body then never, ever order a plate of pasta.
  • Pizza. Another dish that has far more carbohydrates than you need. If you’re craving the pizza toppings then simply order those over a salad.
  • Burgers. If you really want a burger then ditch the bun and the fries, and have your patty wrapped in lettuce.

Do Order:

  • Lean meat with vegetables. Fish, steak, chicken, take your pick and pair it with green vegetables.
  • Salad with protein. Ask for very light dressing and make sure you have a nice piece of protein on it.
  • Soup and salad. Stick with broth based soups that contain protein and pass on the breadsticks.