When you're watching your weight or simply trying to make healthier choices, eating out can be such a minefield that you might be tempted to avoid it altogether. But according to Dr David S. Ludwig, professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center you can still enjoy socialising without ruining your good intentions.
In an extract from his book, Always Hungry?, Dr. Ludwig reveals the best meals to order in a range of restaurants from Thai to Italian to Japanese.
He says that the key is not to worry about calories, but to avoid processed carbohydrates and sources of hidden sugar, such as low fat salad dressing.
Fajitas made with lettuce leaves instead of tortillas
Deconstructed burrito: All the elements such as beans, chicken, vegetables and even sour cream and guacamole, but no tortilla wrap. And if you add rice, ask for brown if available.
Chilli or black bean soup: Top with sour cream or cheese for extra flavour if you like.
Guacamole with crudites: Radishes, cucumbers or any other crunchy vegetables are all good choices.
Curry with tofu, meat, chicken, or fish, but hold the rice or ask for brown.
Vegetable stir-fry and sautéed greens
Miso or coconut milk-based soup
Fruit salad for dessert
If you're eating at a Japanese restaurant, avoid sushi made with sweetened white rice and opt for sashimi instead
MEDITERRANEAN, GREEK OR ITALIAN
Fresh fish, chicken, or meat
Vegetable cooked or dressed in olive oil
Hummus or olive tapenade with crudites
Olives and feta
Tabbouleh: Made with bulgur wheat, not couscous
Tomato and mozzarella Caprese salad
Fruit with unsweetened Greek yoghurt: Add a touch of honey if you like
SALAD BAR OR DELI
Sources of protein such as chicken, tuna, tofu, sardines or boiled eggs
Smoked salmon on lettuce with cream cheese, tomato, and onion
Non starchy vegetables and avocado
Chickpeas or hummus, lentils and black beans
Grated and cottage cheese
Whole grains, such as quinoa
Non potato-based soups