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Dining out with Nicole

Published December 17. 2009 05:00PM

We caught up with Nicole Michalik at an Italian restaurant in the Lehigh Valley. While the menu was filled with pasta, cheese, cream-based soups and buttery, decadent desserts, Nicole practiced what she preached, forgoing bread and potatoes, and asking for a double-helping of vegetables, a sugar-free drink, and no dessert.

Dining out doesn't have to be an evening of what you can't have. If you want to indulge on occasion, Nicole says that's fine, just make smarter choices.

Scanning the menu, she points out that the gazpacho a soup loaded with tomatoes and vegetables and served cold would be an excellent choice, but hold the sour cream and croutons, especially if your weakness is a taste of the rustic bread served alongside a slathering of olive oil and seasonings.

Nicole says it may be OK to have a piece of that warm crusty bread if you are in maintenance mode with your weight loss; but if you are in serious weight loss mode, just say no and move on. The same goes for potatoes and regular rice.

"Say 'no' to anything white," says Nicole. "You can never go wrong."

While in maintenance mode, Nicole might opt for pasta. In that case, she skips the bread as well as any appetizer that contains carbohydrates.

When you scan the menu, Nicole says to stay away from anything that has "crispy" in its title, and to also beware of soups, which can be high in sodium. Salt will make you retain water. When selecting a dip, ask for carrots and celery and skip the chips.

She also recommends whenever possible, order your main dish as an appetizer portion and team it up with a salad.

"You have to be really diligent about the choices," she points out.

While Turkey Day and the upcoming holidays can be a challenge for everyone, Nicole tackles it head-on. Did she eat the stuffing and have a piece of pie? You bet, but she was proactive.

On Thanksgiving morning, she went to the gym for a "Turkey Burn," a two-hour spin class.

Nicole says she still loves food; probably now, more than ever. She has expanded her selection, and what she eats, she really tastes and enjoys that much more.

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