I love eating in restaurants and trying new foods, and over time, I’ve developed various techniques to make sure I don’t go overboard. A restaurant’s goal is to make sure the food is delicious, which often means large portions and lots of sugar.  Follow these suggestions and you’ll limit your sugar while still having a good time!

Skip the bread basket. Sip water instead. If you’re hungry, order an appetizer salad right away to take away the temptation of bread or other appetizers. Soups are another option: brothy vegetable and bean-based ones are best. Avoid creamy soups and ones with sausage or bacon.

Order dressing on the side. You may feel like Meg Ryan from When Harry Met Sally, but ordering dressings and sauces on the side allow you to control how much you’re using.

Count wine or cocktails as a carb. Go ahead and order a glass of wine or low-sugar cocktail, like a vodka soda or tequila soda (avoid fruit juice mixers and frozen drinks). Just remember to make this a swap for starchy sides like sweet potatoes, fries, or rice.

Choose chicken, seafood, or vegetarian entrees. Beef and pork tend to be higher in saturated fats. If the chicken has skin on it, remove that.

Look for grilled, roasted, or steamed preparations instead of fried. You also want to avoid foods sauteed in butter or oil. Healthy fats like the ones found in olive oil, avocado, and nuts are great, and help you feel full, but take care not to overdo it.

Control your portions. Restaurant entree sizes can be huge. If the meat is larger than the palm of your hand, take any extra home as leftovers. Eat only until you’re satisfied and take the rest home for a great lunch the next day! Also consider splitting large entrees with a friend.

Beware of condiments and sauces. Ketchup, barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce—all of these commonly have tons of sugar.  

Substitute salad for fries. Most restaurants include fries, chips, or mashed potatoes as a side. Ask for salad or rice instead—eat as much leafy and cruciferous vegetables as you’d like and you’ll never go hungry! Starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes should be eaten in moderation.

Have a Sweet Defeat instead of dessert. Go ahead and have coffee or tea (but don’t add a sweetener), but don’t order dessert—and have a Sweet Defeat to keep yourself from having a bite of someone else’s! It’s too hard to know how many grams of sugar you’re having. If you’re celebrating something important, then by all means indulge, but make it the only one you give yourself for the week. Making the treat intentional and limited will make you much happier in the long run, and you’ll really enjoy it!