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How To Eat Healthy While Eating Out: 7 Tips From The 'Altar'd' Hosts

What's the trickiest part of sticking to any diet, or even just maintaining healthy eating habits? Eating out at restaurants. Portions are large, temptations abound, and even meals that appear to be healthy sometimes sneakily aren't. But if you head out for a meal with a game plan that includes the 7 tips below, your waistline will thank you. We tapped the co-hosts of our new series Altar'd a show where engaged couples are challenged to shape up 90 days before their wedding day, completely making over their eating and exercise habits for the latest tricks for eating healthy while eating out. Here's what Altar'd hosts Erin Stutland and Chris Marhefka had to say:

1. Drink Lots Of Water Before Ordering And While Awaiting Your Food.

"Many times our bodies are actually dehydrated and thirsty, not hungry, so drinking water will help you not over-eat," says Marhefka. Adds Stutland, "Before ordering a drink or glass of wine, ask for hot water with lemon. It helps to aid in digestion." 

2. Portions Are Usually Too Large. Here's Three Ways To Deal:

Here's Marhefka's three strategies for not over-eating an extra-large portion: 1) Order an appetizer size as an entree. This way the portion size will be smaller and more appropriate for one person. 2) As a single portion is often enough for two, offer to split your meal with someone else. 3) Put half the food in a to-go box right away. 

3. Watch For Sneaky Calories On That Salad!

Salad's an excellent choice to either start your meal or to have as a main entree. But remember, creamy dressing, croutons, and cheese can amp up the calorie count. "Start with a salad to fill up with fiber, but ask for dressing on the side," says Stutland. And pay attention to what's in that dressing. "Try to make your dressing choice as simple and light as possible," says Marhefka. "Use oil and vinegar or other oil based dressings, and avoid sugar-coated nuts and other heavy toppings."

4. Be Okay With The 80/20 Rule.

In a nutshell, the 80/20 rule means that 80 percent of the time you focus on eating healthy food, and 20 percent of the time you indulge as you please. Or as Marhefka says, "It's okay to have one drink, one small dessert, or one roll." 

5. See What You Can Swap Or Remove For A Healthier Meal.

There's usually a healthier twist to many meals available...provided you ask. Some ideas from both Stutland and Marhefka: If you get a side, order veggies instead of starches and carbs. Opt for grilled, not fried. And try asking for your meat, veggies, and salad without the sauces and cheese.

6. Eat Slower (And Talk More!)

"Put your fork down in between every few bites and engage more fully in the conversation with your dining partner," suggests Stutland. "This will make your meal more enjoyable, plus, eating slower will allow your stomach to signal when you're full, likely causing you to eat less."

7. Don't Let One Poor Choice Derail Your Effort. 

"Be aware that one drink can lead to two drinks which can lead to pizza," says Marhefka.