Many people prefer to dine out on a regular basis to avoid the hassle of cooking. When you're trying to lose weight, dining out too often can make it difficult to stay on track. Restaurant meals are often full of empty calories that can quickly steer a weight loss plan off course.

MSNBC reports there are a number of ways to avoid losing sight of weight loss goals while going out to eat on a regular basis.

  • Hold the sauce. It can be difficult to imagine how much butter, salt, and additives are thrown into restaurant dishes if you've never worked in a kitchen. Play it safe and order a simple meal, such as a salad or steamed vegetables with protein, to avoid busting your daily caloric goals.
  • Customize. When possible, try to customize your meal. It may make you feel like you're being a pain to the waiter, but swapping out sides and additives for healthy alternatives can help you maintain your weight. When looking over your choices of sides, steer clear of starchy options, such as mashed potatoes, and opt for steamed vegetables instead.
  • Dressing on the side. If you are ordering a salad, ask to have the dressing on the side. Oftentimes, a kitchen staff will pour dressing (and unnecessary calories) onto the dish.
  • Pass on the bread. Many restaurants provide free bread and butter to guests. These tasty snacks can throw off any weight loss plan. Buttered bread can add 100 calories to a meal, making it crucial to avoid it. Avoid dessert as well to steer clear of unnecessary calories.
  • Quench your thirst with water. Avoid ordering carbonated beverages. Soda and beer are full of empty calories and sugar that can sink your weight loss efforts.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that half of your plate should be composed of fruits and vegetables. Although this can be a difficult goal to meet at restaurants, taking these tips into consideration can help you work toward your weight loss goals.