Don't let your diet run your life and ruin your relationships.
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani

It’s much easier to make smart choices when you have input over where you eat or what’s on the menu. It’s tougher when you have no control over your meal, and dining situations like these will arise. Whether it’s a preset banquet meal or a four-course dinner at a fancy restaurant, here are the best ways to stay on track with your diet.

1. It never hurts to ask, so see if it’s possible to make small changes to your plate (think dressings and sauces on the side, a vegetable in place of a cheesy potato side dish, or an entrée broiled or grilled instead of fried).

2. Suggest that the table share appetizers rather than ordering individual ones.

3. Choose a salad or entrée that features lots of low-calorie vegetables so you fill up.

4. Choose vegetable or broth-based soups and avoid bisques and creamy ones.

5. Look for words such as grilled, sautéed, steamed, stir-fried, poached, or broiled that signify the dish has been prepared using a healthier method, or choose a meal that uses a less fattening seasoning method (terms like reduction, spice-rubbed, herb, or broth-based often signify this).

6. Avoid items that use higher fat cooking terms like deep-fried, smothered, and creamed as well as descriptions that include aioli, fritter, remoulade, carbonara, white sauce, scampi, béchamel, au gratin, and beurre blanc.

7. If you must have dessert, savor two to three bites, and then put down the fork. Or, share it with someone.