If you are desperately slimming or even losing weight slowly, like all slimmers, you will find it much harder to follow a low calorie diet when eating out away from your controlled home environment.

To help you stay on track we have listed a few suggestions to get you through the temptation zone. Incidentally it is never a good idea to reward your sterling dieting efforts with a good ‘blow out’ at a posh restaurant. Once you have lost that sense of discipline, even once, you may find it impossible to get back on track again.

Don’t go out for a meal when you are ravenously hungry, always eat something at home beforehand to take some of the edge off your appetite or you will forget all about your diet and lose every bit of self control when presented with too many scrumptious temptations on the menu.

Drink plenty of bottled water before and during your meal as this will help to make you feel full and should help you to resist too much alcohol – which contains just as many damaging calories as food.

Avoid drinking anything that is too sweet such as cocktails, sherry, port, dessert wines and especially liqueurs. Even some fruit juices can have a very high natural sugar content.

As a slimmer always choose a light starter such as fruit, salad, consommé or caviar – if you can afford it.

Safe main course choices for weight loss are fish, free range chicken (factory farmed chicken contains a high percentage of fat) and lean grilled meat with healthy vegetables like spinach, green beans, cauliflower or a plain salad.

Tell the waiter when you are ordering your meal that you are dieting and you don’t want any butter, white sauce or dressing.

When slimming try to avoid pasta and rice dishes as they are pure carbohydrates.

The dessert course can be a minefield for the dedicated slimmer, however there are several ways round this sticky problem. You could skip the sweet course altogether but this can leave your fellow diners feeling rather awkward about enjoying a pudding in front of someone who is secretly coveting what is on their plate.

You could opt for a really light sweet such as slice fruit or a small portion of sorbet. Or probably the best option – you could have whatever you fancy, eat a very tiny amount slowly with a small teaspoon or ask for volunteers to finish the rest. Luckily you won’t have much trouble enlisting the latter!

Ask for smaller portions. In some restaurants you can choose a starter dish as your main course with plenty of lightly steamed vegetables or a huge salad.

Mediterranean food tends to be healthy and more slimming but watch the olive oil.

Eat slowly and really try to savour the taste of the food.

Put your knife and fork down while you converse – this will make the meal last longer.

Remember over-salty food can contribute to water retention, a common cause of obesity.

Do ignore well meaning fellow diners who say things like ‘…go on have some cream surely a little bit won’t harm’ or ‘…you look great as you are, I can’t think why you need to diet’. Remember they don’t have to face the scales the next morning.

With any meal, especially at Christmas, to save piling on the calories try cutting out all the extra trimmings and sauces which are often rich in sugar, butter, cream, olive oil and hidden saturated fats.

Stubborn weight loss may benefit from a serious programme of correct food combining such as the Hay Diet. On this well respected eating plan proteins and carbohydrates are never consumed during the same eating period, this gives the digestive system a rest and often proves to be the final key to losing weight successfully.

Finally don’t beat yourself up if you eat more than you planned. Forget it – we all make mistakes. Just learn valuable lessons for the next time you dine out.