Eating out has become an unavoidable and in some households a regular event. As a Cardiologist, I strongly encourage my patients to dine at home and eat home cooked meals. There are volumes of books on diet and “heart healthy eating.” Before going to bookstore and purchasing all these titles, try reading these dining out tips. I have compiled a few practical tips when I as a necessity must eat out.

All fine restaurants have certain common dishes that are invariably on the menu. Based on this observation, I make the following recommendations on how to maintain a heart healthy diet even when dining out:

1. Eat the larger portion of your meal at home where you know the food is healthy. When it comes time to eat dinner at restaurant, you don’t want to go there famished with a large appetite.

2. Don’t order appetizers.

3. Eat less of the bread and rolls they routinely provide. If you do eat the bread, don’t put butter on it.

4. When ordering the main dish, chose fish, especially fresh water fish like Salmon or Halibut. Tell the waiter to have the cook not baste or apply butter. Instead, use lemon juice or olive oil. If you want to eat chicken, make sure the skin is removed and chicken is washed before cooking. Don’t eat fried chicken: that has more fat that a side of lean beef. If they have a vegetarian platter choice on the menu: go for it.

5. When the waiter asks you what food you want on side, choose vegis like asparagus, baked potato rather than French fries or cole slaw.

6. If you do order beef, make sure it is the leanest portion and then order medium/well done. Eating red meat should be a once a year occasion not a routine staple of your diet. I recommend not eating beef or fried chicken ever.

7. Avoid condiments like bacon bits, bacon, mayonnaise on your burger. Mustard and ketchup are fine.

8. When ordering a salad, choose vinaigrette on your salad. Have the waiter place the dressing on side rather than mixed into the salad. This allows you to control how much dressing you need to mix into the salad.

9. Don’t order a dessert. If you are absolutely fixated on having a dessert, order something with fruit or sorbet.

10. Don’t add sugar to your coffee or any other beverage you may order.