Just because Charleston offers up some of the best restaurant experiences in the country, doesn't mean you can't still enjoy a healthy meal. Check out our 5 tips below to make your next dining experience here in the lowcountry or anywhere for that matter a healthful one. For most of us, light eating(opens in a new tab) means passing up the Alfredo and opting for veggies over the fries. Problem is, even if you adhere to conscientious eating while dining out, healthy options still fall prey to the decadent trappings of extra oil, bigger portions, and serious calories. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat at home every night. Simply follow these tips when you dine on a diet, and your meal will be both delicious and guilt-free: Go easy on the olive oil. Sure, olive oil is a better option than slathering your bread with butter, but it’s still a quick source of fat and calories—and that bread soaks it up like a sponge. Olive oil may not have saturated fat(opens in a new tab) or increase your bad cholesterol, but it can still wreak havoc on your waistline. Next time you want to garnish your bread with heavenly flavor, opt for extra-virgin olive oil and add a splash of balsamic vinegar to cut down the calories. Instead of dipping, drizzle it on with a fork. Beware the small plates. They look innocuous enough, but tapas and appetizers add up, especially since most come to your table deep-fried and calorie-packed. Not to mention, these small dishes trick your brain into thinking you haven’t eaten much, so you tend to eat more. Avoid the extra calories by looking for grilled options, and opt for veggies or protein over carbs. Watch out for plain old veggies. Steamed veggies(opens in a new tab) are always a smart option for the figure-conscience patron. After all, they are a great source of fiber and antioxidants. Still, chefs often finish them in a sauté pan with a slick of butter or oil to boost the flavor. To avoid the fat-trap, order your veggies by asking for them “dry.” That will let the chef know to steam them and leave the bacon drippings and oil far away from your greens so you can control your calorie count. Don’t fall for looks. Gorgeously plated meals can make a large serving suddenly look tiny when dwarfed by a huge platter or when piled sky-high. Dodge the extra intake with a proper-portion check. Lean protein should be no bigger than your smartphone. A serving of carbs should be the size of your fist—much smaller than the average pasta entrée. Be salad savvy. You’ve been ordering your salads(opens in a new tab) with dressing on the side for years now, but the ingredients in even a mixed green salad can mean unwanted calories. One with goat cheese, pears, and candied walnuts, for instance, can set you back 500 calories. Most restaurants are willing to let you custom-create your salad with dressing on the side to avoid these unnecessary temptations.

What are some ways you avoid extra calories while enjoying a meal out?