Do you enjoy dining out on the weekends or on a special occasion? Eating healthy is easier when you are at home and can take the time to plan your meals. What if I told you that it was possible to dine out and still lose weight or even maintain your goal weight? Yes, you heard me correctly. You can dine out and still lose weight with careful planning.
Typically, when you arrive at the restaurant you immediately crack open the menu and browse the selections. Without careful planning, you find yourself ordering your favorite pasta meal with the creamy sauce, pizza, cheeseburger with french fries, or other unhealthy choices. When you take the time to think about your meal choices, you might not be so quick to order these unhealthy choices or at least make them a bit healthier. Learn how to dine out without blowing your healthy eating habits with these ten tips.
STUDY THE MENU BEFORE YOU GO
Do you know where you are planning on going out to dinner? If they have a website, you can easily scope out their menu in advance so that you can go ahead and plan your meal choice. Planning ahead makes it so much easier to stick to your healthy eating plan. Plus, it gives you the chance to research the calorie and fat on several different meal options so that you can pick the healthiest option.
SIP ON WATER OR UNSWEETENED TEA WITH YOUR MEAL
Next time the waiter asks you what you want to drink, order a glass of water with lemon or unsweetened tea. Drinking water or unsweetened tea can easily save you several hundred calories. Many people don’t realize how much soda that they are actually consuming when they are dining out because the waiter is constantly refilling your glass.
OPT FOR GRILLED, STEAMED, OR BROILED ENTREES
When choosing an entree and sides opt for something on the menu that has been grilled, steamed, or broiled. These entrees typically aren’t cooked in a bunch of butter or oil. You should avoid things that have been fried, sauteed, or have creamy sauces.
SALADS ARE NOT ALWAYS BETTER
Depending on where you are dining out, a salad is not always the best option on the menu. Many restaurants end up putting adding a bunch of fatty options on most of the salads on the menu. They usually have too much salad dressing, bacon, cheese, croutons, or nuts. If you decide to order a salad, order the dressing on the side and choose a low-fat version if possible. Dipping your fork into the salad dressing before you put salad on your fork will save you a ton of calories.
Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter to leave off any of the fat-laden toppings that you don’t want. Be careful when adding meat to your salad too. It is best to opt for lean meats such as grilled chicken. This will help you stick to your healthy eating plan.
REDUCE CALORIES WHENEVER POSSIBLE
If you decide to order a hamburger or anything that you can have some control over the way your food is prepared, try these ideas to reduce the number of calories and fat that you are consuming. Skip the following:
- mayonnaise or mayonnaise-based sides such as coleslaw, potato salad
- cheese or cheese based entrees/sides
- unlimited bread – take 1 (if you’re tempted ask the waiter to take them from your table)
- heavy sauces
- french fries (substitute for healthier choices)
- baked potato (try a plain sweet potato instead)
SPLIT YOUR MEAL
Most restaurants often serve you way too much food making it is very easy for you to overeat. If possible, when eating out choose something that you can split or a meal that you wouldn’t mind eating leftover.
When the waiter brings you your meal, immediately ask for a to-go container and bag if you aren’t splitting your meal with someone else at the table. Then put half of your meal into the to-go bag and set it out of your site. Putting your meal into the to-go container before your meal will prevent you from accidentally overeating because most people will continue to pick at their food if it is in front of them.
If you are out with your friends or family, order first so that you aren’t accidentally tempted to order the same thing as someone else at the table. Try not to stress out too much if you can’t place your order first. Just remember why it is important to order a healthier meal.
Eating slowly will allow you to fully savor each bite of your food especially if you are only eating half of an entree. Try to enjoy the conversation between each of your bites. Many people find it helpful to put their eating utensils down on the table between bites so that you are forced to chew your food slowly.
LIMIT ALCOHOL INTAKE
It is easy to be tempted to order a bunch of drinks while you are out to dinner on the weekend. But if you are drinking too many alcoholic beverages then you may be canceling out your entire week of healthy eating. Instead, opt for one drink that is low in sugar/carbs.
Skip the margarita or pina colada and choose a wine or light beer instead. Even better if you skip it all together. Plus, limiting your alcohol intake will also prevent you from accidentally overeating.
Don’t order dessert before you have even had a chance to let your food settle in your stomach. Before deciding to order something for dessert, wait at least 20 minutes after you have finished your meal. Desserts at restaurants are usually huge and are usually packed full of calories and fat. If you decide to order dessert, split it with everyone at your table or order something that is healthier such as a sorbet, fruit, etc.
If you use these tips properly, then you will learn how to dine out without blowing your healthy eating habits during the week. I love that I can still eat out with my family even though I am working on losing weight. Don’t forget to log your food intake in MyFitness Pal.
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