We've all been there: a long day at the office or at home, and you just can't be bothered to prep and cook a meal. You decide to give yourself a break and go to a restaurant instead. Nothing wrong with that, right? Well, not necessarily, but if you are watching your weight then there are a few key questions you can ask to make sure you aren't finding extra calories hidden in your entree. Here are our simple strategies when eating out:

Can I get that on the side?

This is a big one. Even salads become a hazard to your diet when they are drenched in creamy dressings and loaded with cheese, nuts, and bacon. If you ask for a sauce or condiment on the side, then you have control over how much you consume. No overdressing, no overeating.

How is this prepared?

This one sounds like a no-brainer, but it's actually a great question to ask. You may get an answer that surprises you & and one that saves you tons of calories. Perhaps your dish is finished with butter or deep-fried instead of sauteed. You can adjust accordingly when you know what you are ordering.

Do you do half orders?

You would be surprised how many restaurants are willing to prepare entrees or appetizers in half sizes. And with the huge portion sizes these days, in many restaurants that can mean just the amount of food you need. Or, if you're quite hungry, you can order a half salad to go along with a half entree.

Can I get that grilled?

Often items on the grill contain fewer calories than items cooked in a pan (or fried). And it's no surprise & they cook with just a few sprays of oil, whereas in a pan oil or butter is used more liberally. So why not try your fish grilled rather than pan-fried next time? Your heart will thank you.

Do you make that here?

This is another question that can speak volumes about what's on the menu. Chances are, if an item is prepared by the restaurant, rather than being brought in, it will be preservative-free, contain fewer ingredients, and may even have less fat and calories. As an added bonus, freshly made items usually just taste better as well. Also avoid dishes with canned ingredients.

Most importantly, don't feel embarrassed for asking questions or making special requests. Chances are, if you ask with a smile, your waiter won't think twice about accommodating them. And with just a few little questions, you may just be eating there more often.

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