Ever notice that if you try to recreate a restaurant dish at home, the results are never quite as tasty? It's probably because you're putting in normal amounts of salt, butter, sugar and other ingredients, rather then loading them up for flavour.
Even the healthiest of restaurants have certain items that are going to wreak havoc with your diet. The basic rule of thumb when dining out on a diet is to look for large servings of protein like chicken or fish, prepared in a healthy manner. For sides, opt for crunchy vegetable-based dishes rather than white carbs like bread and chips.
As well as that though, there are certain words and phrases that should trigger alarm bells when choosing a healthy meal. Watch out for the following buzzwords next time you're dining out!
What's the best way to make a soup or sauce creamy? You've guessed it – by adding cream or milk. Diet disaster. Even vegan substitutes like coconut milk and cashew milk are high in fat, so be aware when ordering.
Certain vegan and vegetarian foods like quorn and tofu are often used as meat substitutes. As they are naturally lower in fat and sodium than things like red meat or chicken, chefs will have to add in salt and other products to boost flavour. So if that seitan tastes AMAZING compared to when you tried it at home, there's your answer!
3. "Organic" and "locally sourced"
Yes, organic foods are not genetically modified, but they are still the same basic foods. The same goes for locally sourced products. That asparagus spear might contain more nutrients as it's been grown just down the road rather than being flown across the globe, but if it's been pan fried in butter and coated in salt before reaching your plate, it's still going to contain the same amount of fat.
4. "Pan-fried" or "skillet-fried"
The bad news – fried means fried, no matter what type of container it's in!
If you're coeliac or have an intolerance to gluten, obviously this is by far the healthiest menu choice for you to keep your digestive system working smoothly. But if you're choosing a gluten-free dish to avoid carbs, beware. Gluten-free foods like rice still pack in a fair amount of carbohydrates.
6. "Low-fat" or "fat-free"
Manufacturers have to add something to ensure your fat-free food still tastes good. More often then not, it's sugar. Be aware that many "high-fat" foods like avocado and olive oil actually contain healthy sources of fat so are not to be avoided.
7. "Glazed," "Sticky" and "Honey dipped"
Yes, honey or maple syrup might seem like a better option than refined sugar, but it's still going to pack a calorific punch. When it comes to glazes like teriyaki or BBQ, it's best to ask your waiter what the sauce is actually made from.