Restaurant Traps: How to Avoid the Added Calories

Grilled this, and blacked that: You think you’re ordering diet-friendly fare, but calories have a way of sneaking into many “health” picks. Order wisely with these tips in mind.

1. Little plates don’t mean little calories. Most of the time these are often super sized and often, super-fried. Look for the word grilled. Grilled seafood or grilled veggies are your best bet if you want and appetizer or at a tapas restaurant.

2. Chefs are trained to make us gain. They are thinking of flavor, not the customer on a diet. Before ordering, ask if there’s butter or cream in a dish. They don’t always list everything that goes in a dish on the menu.

3. Order your veggies dry. A lot of chefs will steam their veggies, then finish them in a pan with butter or olive oil. By ordering them dry, you’re telling them to skip the last step.

Decoding Your Menu


En papillote: wrapped in parchment paper and cooked in its own juices. Naturally low in fat.

Sous-vide: placed in an airtight plastic bag and cooked in water for a longer than normal time, often resulting in a moist (not greasy!) entree.

Poached: cooked in a simmering, usually fat-free liquid.


Puréed: cooked, strained, then processed in a blender. Cream and/or butter is often added to make pureed soups and veggies smooth, so check.

Sautéed: friend quickly in a little oil or a lot.

Steamed: cooking foods by steam vapor. Sometimes butter or oil is added in the end.


Blackened: coated in flour and cooked in hot oil or butter.

En croute: wrapped in buttery pastry dough and baked.

Pané: French for breaded and deep-fried.

Twice-baked: the second go-round adds extras such as cream, salt, cheese, and other high-calorie fixings.

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