Weight Loss Guide for Deli Style Restaurants

Many of us enjoy grabbing a sandwich for a meal, typically lunch! What is there not to enjoy about an easy to put together meal that never gets boring thanks to many topping options, kinds of breads and endless condiments and dressings? Whether you are in the mood for a hot or cold sandwich, one with meat, ham, fish or a maybe a tofu sandwich, even this simple meal can be a bit overwhelming. At MakeMyPlate we are aware that many of our users often eat out and want to provide you with all the tools you need to stay on track when it comes to your weight loss diet plan This week will focus on deli’s/café sandwich menu options.

A sandwich can make for a healthy and satisfying meal. When you make smart healthy choices, they contain carbohydrates, protein, and vegetables. On the other hand, they can also add up to hundreds if not 1,000 calories! About half of your daily caloric needs when on a general meal plan of 2,000 calories. Here are some hints and tips on how to make a healthy choice for your weight loss plan, especially when dinning out.

Who doesn’t enjoy the smell of fresh baked bread? With today’s variety and choices, you can really get confused when it comes to picking the best bread when on a weight loss diet. My general tip is opting for bread slices instead of a roll, ciabatta or specialty bread. Those options usually contain more calories. If possible, make it even a better choice and order your sandwich on whole wheat or multigrain bread. These kinds of bread contain more fiber and are richer in nutrients. If you are counting your calories, you can also ask to see if the restaurant has flat bead, “light” bread or even ask to have most of the inside part of the roll removed before making your sandwich.

Condiments and dressings
For someone trying to watch their weight, this can defiantly be a danger zone when it comes to calories. Thinking about our basics, condiments that you want to cut back on are those based on mayonnaise. These usually have a creamy appearance. Examples for these kinds of toppings are thousand island, honey mustard, ranch, spicy mayonnaise etc. These dressings are high in fat, and not the kinds of healthy fats you want to consume in moderation. Another ingredient that can be found in many of the dressings is sugar commonly found in sweet onion, teriyaki or vinaigrette. Instead of the condiments and dressings mentioned above, good options are mustard, hummus, avocado spread, roasted pepper spread or giving your sandwich a kick by using strong herbs such as basil, oregano, cilantro, mint leaves dill etc.

In most cases, this is the main ingredient in your sandwich. As mentioned above, there are many options when it comes to creating your masterpiece of a sandwich. If you choose to go with a meat or fish option, try to stick with low fat options such as low fat cold cuts, ham, tuna or salmon. As a substitute, other good options include tofu, tempeh or a lentil/ bean spread. Both options can be combined with cheese or the cheese can even stand alone as a protein source. One common down side of cheese toppings at restaurants is that many restaurants offer cheeses that are generally high in fat. At your restaurant of your choice, ask if they have a low fat cheese option on hand, or consider skipping the cheese altogether if consumed with other protein sources.

This is the place where it’s time to pile it on! Adding vegetables to your sandwich adds bulk, colors, variety and nutrients, with very little calories. Try a different variety of vegetables to keep your sandwich exciting every time.

As you see, a sandwich can be a great option for a meal, even when on a weight loss diet. Use these guidelines at your next visit to a deli or café and enjoy a guilt free meal. Bon Appetite and Enjoy!


5 Basic Steps to Creating Healthier Meals

Eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean that you must be on a diet. Many people use the word “diet” to describe food restriction of some sort. However, in actuality it is a general term to describe one’s nutritional consumption. Dietary habits can be adopted at every point in one’s life and at any age. Keep in mind however; that the earlier you start the easier it is, since it simply becomes a habit. It is never too late to make changes in order to eat healthier meals and live a healthier life style.

Go Natural
Much of the food that we consume in the United States is processed in one way or another. Processed foods often contain fats, chemicals, (some that we can’t even pronounce), and are loaded with sodium. While it’s true that they are convenient, try to cut back on them as much as possible. My rule of thumb is that if a food item contains more than 10 ingredients then it’s one that I want to try to avoid. Instead, try to make meals on your own from scratch. This is fun to do with family or friends, and who knows; you might discover a new hobby in the process.

Up the Liquids
Consuming plenty of fluids throughout the day is important for your health. The question is what kind of liquids are we fueling our bodies with? Even though many of us are aware that water is best for us, we have a hard time breaking the habit of drinking coffee, tea, soda and juice. Make a new year’s resolution to try and cut down on these caloric drinks and increase your water consumption. You can even be creative by adding some “spice” to you water by using mint, lemon/lime/cucumber/orange slices, cinnamon sticks, etc.

Boost Your Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and fiber, all of which are important for good health and disease prevention. Not only do they add color to your plate, they are lower in calories and benefit your digestion process. Experts recommend eating 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Make this number a dietary goal by including them as a snack, smoothie drink, desserts, and of course, on your plate.

Make Your Food Whole
Another simple way to consume healthier meals is by consuming whole wheat and whole grains. Whole wheat/whole grains are higher in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and will keep you satisfied for a longer period of time, more so than processed products.. Consuming whole wheat/grain products doesn’t mean you have to break your piggy bank. Today a variety of these products are offered in supermarkets, restaurants, cafeterias and schools at minimal additional cost, if any.

Cookie Cut Your Plate Smart
Try to use the following reference to allow for a balanced plate at each meal and snack: Half of the plate; vegetables/fruits, one quarter of the plate grains and one quarter protein. This is an easy way to stay on track as opposed to counting calories, points or constantly measuring portions.

Here you have it! A New Year, a healthier lifestyle and diet, a new you.





Weight Loss Guide For Asian Restaurants

Is it just me or are Asian cuisine restaurants popping up left and right? From sushi to Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai there is so much variety to choose from, which when on a weight loss plan may sometimes be a bit overwhelming. As at MakeMyPlate we are aware that many of our users often eat out we want to provide you with all the tools you need to stay on track when it comes to your weight loss diet plan, both in and out of your home kitchen.

As part of this blog series, we are focusing each week on a different restaurant type so you have all the tips and facts to make optimal choices and achieve your weight loss plan. In most cases, restaurants are happy to accommodate your dietary needs if you have a diet plan and ask accordingly. This week we are happy to share our expert’s weight loss tips at Asian restaurants.

Chinese restaurants
Most people are quite familiar with these restaurants. Here are some helpful guidelines to cut back on calories and still enjoy a delicious meal with family and friends:

  • Skip the bread – Many American Chinese restaurants now offer bread on the table as soon as you sit down. Since appetizers generally come out quickly, don’t hesitate to notify your waitress that you would like to pass on this item.
  • Avoid the chips – We know those crunchy chips with sweet and sour sauce are hard to say no to. Instead, focus on drinking water or order a healthier appetizer such as Edamame for the table. If you find it hard to avoid them all together, limit yourself to just a few.
  • Stick to healthier appetizer options- such as soup or chicken skewers as opposed to Eggroll or Tempura (keyword for “fried everything”).
  • Choose wisely – When it comes to choosing your main course try to order a protein dish such as chicken/beef/fish/seafood cooked with vegetables and avoid fried options, or order a tofu and vegetable dish as a meatless alternative.
  • Go brown – Try brown rice instead of fried rice, white rice or noodles.

Sushi restaurants
Have you seen the menus at some of these Shushi restaurants? I mean, WOW! Sometimes they are really difficult to navigate! Shushi can be served as an appetizer or a full meal, and with the western twist (all-you-can-eat, mayo-based sauces etc.) can add up to hundreds of calories, unlike what many people think. Follow these basic guidelines to ensure a healthier meal when eating sushi: 

  • Make a smart appetizer choice – Many Sushi restaurants offer miso soup and a salad for an appetizer. These are smarter options than say a veggie tempura, fried Gyoza, or egg/spring rolls. There are other soups and salads that are also available such as a seaweed salad or vegetable soup that you might find suitable to your taste.
  • Rice free- Many restaurants offer rolls with no rice, and instead use cucumber, soy-based wraps or nori (seaweed). Ask your server if any such alternatives are available.
  • Load your roll with low calorie vegetables– Examples include cucumber, carrots, scallions etc. They will add crunch and flavor to your roll without adding too many calories.
  • Stick to the basics. Fancy rolls can often have caloric ingredients such as cream cheese, mayonnaise or tempura coating. Choose fish, rice, and vegetables for a lighter meal. I recommend enjoying soup and salad and then stick with 2 rolls, since each roll can have more rice (up to 1 cup in each!) than what you think.
  • Go light on the spices- Spicy sauces are usually mayonnaise based. Spare the calories by choosing wasabi or ginger instead.

Thai and Vietnamese restaurants
Vietnamese and Thai dining options are quickly gaining popularity. Similar to other Asian cuisine in North America these dishes have gone through a “westernization process” adding calories and fat to what would otherwise be a relatively healthy meal. Here are some things to keep in mind when eating at a Vietnamese or Thai restaurant:

  • Go lighter with a rice paper or lettuce option – Choose rice paper rolls or lettuce wraps rather than spring rolls or other deep fried entrees. Rice paper rolls are usually full of vegetables and herbs, adding crunch and flavor, without the fat and oil. For dipping, stick to dipping sauces that are light and thin and avoid thicker sauces that are usually made of peanut paste or coconut oil.
  • Healthy cooking methods– Opt for steamed or poached seafood or meat with fresh herbs. Both Vietnamese and Thai cooking include a variety of herbs which not only add interesting flavors but also help keep things low cal.
  • Try traditional- “Pho” (traditional Vietnamese soup) is a great healthy option. This soup is clear broth based and gets its fragrance from meat, noodles and fresh herbs.
  • Watch out for coconut- Many Thai entrees are coconut milk based. Coconut milk is high in saturated (unhealthy) fats, Try instead to choose an entrée that uses lemongrass, garlic or cilantro for flavor.
  • Healthy dessert– Both Vietnamese and Thai restaurants offer a variety of desserts. Select your favorite sorbet, or be adventurous and try a tropical fruit such as lychee or star fruit (carambola), and enjoy these unique flavors, also filled with vitamins and minerals.

 If you are not familiar with our restaurant menu selections check out our App to see which healthier meals you could be ordering at Asian restaurants to help you in your weight loss process. Chuc ngon Mieng and enjoy!

Italian restaurant - pasta

Weight Loss Guide For Italian Restaurants

Welcome to our second blog in this series of Weight Loss and Restaurants. As a reminder, every week we will focus on a different restaurant type, to make sure you have all the tips and facts for your optimal choices to achieve your weight loss plan.
In most cases, restaurants are happy to accommodate your dietary needs, all you have to do is have a meal plan and ask. This week we are focusing on Italian Cuisine.

If we look at the US as a whole, there are hundreds of thousands of Italian restaurants including mom and pop shops, chains, and fast food restaurants. With so many Italian restaurants at our finger tips, we want to provide you with all the tools you need to stay on track when it comes to your weight loss diet while visiting them.

Italian can be tricky to navigate when looking for a low calorie meal or when trying to lose weight, but definitely possible. Many restaurants start out with a bread or garlic bread basket. Much of the bread offered is white bread with lots of butter and oil. We recommend skipping this part of the meal. Make it easier on yourself and simply let your waiter or waitress know that you would like to pass on it.


Exploring the menu beyond carbohydrates.
Most of the items on the menu are mainly composed of carbohydrates, but there are other options as well. Try to stick with an entrée that is protein and vegetable based and includes a small carbohydrate side for Italian restaurants such as pasta. Good options include chicken breast, salmon and shrimp. Or you might also order a salad with a source of protein and a small side pasta.

Choosing the right sauce.
Many different Italian restaurants offer a variety of sauces to go over your pasta. A smart meal planning strategy in this area is to avoid white and butter sauces. These sauces are based on cream and fat and don’t have much to offer as far as nutrients go. Instead try to choose a tomato based sauce, or grilled vegetables and herb based sauces.

Searching for the right menu item.
Many restaurants today offer low calorie meals or mark certain items on the menu as being healthier choices. In fact, some might even have a separate menu altogether, or rotating low calorie specials. Consider ordering one of these items to help you stay on track with your weight loss diet.

Making it your own.
Every Italian restaurant I know of offers pizza on it’s menu. Keeping a few things in mind, ordering pizza is definitely an option even when on a weight loss diet. Let’s start with portion control. Consider ordering a pizza and a salad and sharing with someone in your party. Another option is asking your pizza to be split in two and have half boxed for another meal in the kitchen. The second thing to consider is the crust. If possible order whole wheat, thin crust. This is a good way to save on some extra calories as well as consume healthy nutrients and fiber. Third, try to choose a pizza that is loaded with vegetables instead of a more calorically dense topping such as pepperoni or extra cheeses.

As with all restaurants your best bet for beverage options is water. Restaurants tend to have large glasses and when filled with juice or soda can add hundreds of calories and sugar to your meal.

If you haven’t tried our App yet, or are not familiar with our restaurant menu selections check to find out exactly which healthier meals you could be ordering in Italian restaurants to help you in your weight loss process. Buon Appetitio and enjoy!


Weight Loss Guide for Mexican Restaurants

According to the United States Healthful Food Counsel (USHFC) Americans spend half their food dollars eating out. This is no surprise when we come to think of the busy lifestyles many of us lead. At MakeMyPlate we are aware of the fact that many of our users eat out often and want to provide you with all the tools you need to stay on track when it comes to your weight loss diet plan both in and out of your home kitchen.

As part of this blog series, every week we will focus on a different restaurant type to make sure you have all the tips and facts for your optimal choices to achieve your weight loss plan. In most cases, restaurants are happy to accommodate your dietary needs, all you have to do is have a diet plan and ask. This week we are happy to share our expert’s weight loss tips in Mexican restaurants and food chains.

Usually, the first thing that arrives at the table is chips and salsa and we all know how hard they are to resist. Make it easier by telling you waiter that you would like to skip the chips as they are high in fat and loaded with empty calories. Another general rule of thumb for dishes you might want to steer clear of are those that consist of cheese e.g. cheese and spinach dip, nachos etc. These dishes for the most part are high in fat adding up to hundreds of calories.

Meet your needs when it comes to meat!
Meat can be found on the menu of almost every Mexican restaurant. Whether its beef or chicken, many times it is prepared with extra lard or oil in the skillet. As part of your efforts in creating a healthy meal, we recommend sticking to the grilled meat options, and don’t be shy to ask for no oil or as little as possible. Another great option is going with an alternative such as fish. Fish is a great source of protein, has heart healthy Omega 3, and goes wonderful with typical Mexican items such as rice, veggies, salsa, guacamole, etc. It is preferrable to ask for it grilled not fried.

Go with the Tacos
Generally, ordering a taco meal is smaller in size than your average entrée. When ordering a taco dish you can ask for the more caloric options such as sour cream, shredded cheese, bacon crisps, guacamole, etc., on the side, leaving you in control of portion sizes. Another tip of ours has to do with the tortilla itself. Generally, corn tortillas are lower in calories than wheat tortillas. Also, check with your waiter if it is possible to get the tortilla baked instead of fried.

Bowl it! Burrito style!
Try a burrito bowl. This way you get to enjoy all the delicious flavors of a burrito and save on the extra calories of the tortilla. Many restaurants offer brown rice instead of fried or white rice, which is a healthier choice. You can also ask to go light on the rice and double the veggies. Add your protein choice and choose healthier toppings such as salsa, pico de gallo, chili corn salsa or lime and cilantro dressing.

Bowl it! Salad style!
A salad always makes for a nice meal, and is widely available to include your needs of all major food groups of carbohydrates, protein and vegetables. The smarter choice is to skip the fried bowl that is offered in many Mexican restaurants, and skip the tortilla chips that come on the side or in the salad. Next, we move on to the toppings. Make a healthier choice by asking for the sour cream, guacamole and shredded cheese on the side or skip it all together- don’t worry there are plenty of other options such as salsa or lime and cilantro instead of salsa dressing.

Fajita fiesta!
When ordering Fajitas, go lighter and healthier by ordering grilled chicken or beef and asking for grilled veggies. As with other dishes, request for the sour cream and cheese on the side in order to have better control of their consumption. Additionally, consider skipping the tortillas all together turning your fajitas into a nice hot Mexican stir-fry like dish.

If you haven’t tried our App yet, or are not familiar with our restaurant menu selections check it out to find out exactly which healthier meals you could be ordering in Mexican restaurants to help you in your weight loss process. Buen Provecho and enjoy!



How to Survive Thanksgiving When on a Diet

It’s that time of year again and the holidays are right around the corner. When on a weight loss diet, this can be a time when we feel anxious about maintaining our eating habits and not gaining weight. Here are 5 big tips on how to enjoy a wonderful and healthy Thanksgiving with family and friends instead of thinking about the numbers on the scale the next day:

Feel good and confident about your body
Whether you are hosting, or being hosted for the festive dinner, take time before the meal to feel good about yourself. Wear an outfit that you feel good and comfortable in, and look your best. Feeling good about your body will serve as a reminder of the hard work you put in to be as beautiful as you are and will help you stay in control of your plate.

 Stuff the turkey, not your face! by maintaining your daily eating routine
Many people “save the calories for later” when they know a large holiday meal such as Thanksgiving dinner is coming their way. However, starving yourself throughout the day while fantasizing about that delicious sweet potato dish is not your best bet. It is important to maintain your daily eating schedule and not to skip meals in order to prevent you from stuffing yourself and overeating at dinner.

The “I’m just tasting” syndrome while cooking
You might be surprised but those little nibbles throughout the cooking process can add up to a good deal of unnecessary calories that you don’t count on as being part of your weight loss diet on Thanksgiving. One of the problems with these calories is that we tend not to think of them as much because we don’t consider them as a full meal or snack. The solution is quite simple: Avoid cooking while hungry and take the time to eat a proper and healthy meal.

Set clear guidelines for yourself for that holiday dinner
Most of us do well when setting clear guidelines, rules, and know what to expect from certain situations. As the smell of that delicious turkey is being spread around your home, take a few moments to set guidelines for your holiday dinner. It is important that while doing this you keep in mind setting guidelines that don’t over-restrict you, but allow you to feel good about yourself and remain in control of yourself and your diet. One example is deciding you are only sticking to one serving of sweet potato mash while allowing yourself to eat as many servings of salad as you wish. Another example is waiting 15 minutes after you finish your plate to consider whether you are really hungry for seconds. The sky is the limit, and the more honest you are with yourself, the more successful this tool will be for you.

 Avoid the “What the heck” syndrome
One of the hardest parts when on a weight loss diet, and even when just eating mindfully is forgiving yourself when things get a bit out of control. Truth of the matter is it happens to most dieters. The trick is acknowledging that moment, forgiving yourself, and continuing with your diet plan in order to avoid a downward spiral. Holiday dinners are prone to become one of these moments when you say to yourself: “Oh, what the heck!” If you do end up eating more than you planned during Thanksgiving dinner, acknowledge your behavior, forgive yourself and remember you still have a chance to save the calories and avoid overeating leftovers the next day.

 You are all set! Keep the “Big-5” in mind and have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!


Survive Happy Hour With These 4 Tips!

It’s definitely 5 o’clock somewhere and as the cocktails are flowing and rich indulgent snacking foods are being passed around, you may be wondering how you’re suppose to stick to your diet without sabotaging a great evening. So, what can you do to make sure you can resist the temptation? Well for starters, don’t let the peer pressure force you to blow your diet. There are plenty of options on the drink and dining menu that are healthy and allow you to partake in the fun. Hey, we’ve got you covered for these kinds of occasions. Keep these guidelines in mind and come to happy hour prepared.


  • Don’t arrive hungry. Eat a healthy light meal or snack before arriving so you feel full and won’t be tempted to make unhealthy decisions.
  • When it comes to drinking, stick to a glass of red or white wine. Red wine especially contains antioxidants and can help protect the heart from artery damage.
  • Want something salty? Eat edamame instead. They’re packed with protein and they taste delicious.
  • Go back and forth between water and your drink so you stay hydrated and won’t overindulge.

Dropping Pounds With Pals – Accountability Helps Maximize Weight Loss

Do you have trouble staying motivated with your diet plan? Consider partnering up with an accountability pal to lose more weight! A study by the Journal of Social Sciences showed that people who engaged in social interactions during physical exercise are more motivated and work out harder than those who do it alone. Why?

Engaging with friends while dieting and exercising helps you work harder for longer periods of time. You will feel constantly encouraged and share the challenge with someone on a similar journey. Need a place to start? Check out one of our live online community forums on your MakeMyPlate app so you can seek advice and find accountability when you need it. Get support from a dietitian who can answer your nutritional questions and connect with others on the same diet plan for support and motivation.


Workout At Work: 5 Exercises To Do At Your Desk

The average person sits at the desk 8 hours a day and spends more time commuting via car or public transportation and then watches TV to wind down. Where’s the time left to work out? Exercise eludes the working person and the most widely used excuse is that we have no time left in the day to devote to exercising.

Luckily there are some ways to squeeze in exercises and still remain productive at work. Most of them require just your body and a chair.

Leg Raises – Raise your leg at a 45 degree angle and hold for 2 seconds. This will help tone your legs and strengthen your lower-body.

Hamstring Stretch – Sit up straight and move your chair away from your desk. But your foot on the edge of your desk and extend your arms forward. Lean forward and keep your arms parallel with your leg. Hold for 10 seconds on each leg.

Arm Stretch – Relax your muscles and hold your right wrist over your head and use your other hand to pull, hold for 10 seconds. Switch arms and pull the other side.

Hip Flex – Tone your legs and abs by sitting straight in your chair and bring one knee towards your chest. Slowly bring the leg back and do 15 with each leg.

Ab Contractions – Tone your abs and improve your spine. Draw your belly button toward your spine and hold for 10 seconds.


Healthy salad dressing made easy

With temperatures creeping up in the summer, cool meals like salads are a great way to prepare lunch or dinner in a jiffy while cooling your body down. Not a fan of high calorie dressing? Neither are we! The MakeMyPlate team has compiled a list of healthy suggestions to replace processed supermarket dressings typically loaded with salt, sugar, and preservatives.

Beat the heat and enjoy guilt free salad all summer long without breaking your diet!

Creamy Garlic Dressing
Great for salads that would normally call for ranch. This dressing even makes a great dip for vegetables. It’s a hit with kids!

Makes 1 cup

  • 1⁄2 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1⁄4 cup low­fat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Blend all ingredients in food processor until blended.

Southwest Cobb Dressing
Try it with cobb, taco, or southwest salad. It even tastes great with lettuce wraps and tacos.

Makes 1 cup

  • 1⁄2 cup low­fat sour cream
  •  1⁄4 large avocado (pulp only)
  • a handful of cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in food processor until blended.

Raspberry Vinaigrette
Love an oil vinegar based dressing? Try this raspberry vinaigrette over mixed greens and fresh seasonal veggies.

  • 1⁄2 cup of raspberry puree
  • 1⁄4 cup vinegar
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste