When you’re trying to eat healthy, restaurants can be tricky. Many people think that going out to eat is inevitably detrimental to your diet, but it doesn’t have to be! Use these strategies to eat out smart and stay on track!
Modify the menu
Don’t be afraid to ask for special requests. With all of the allergies and diet restrictions these days, restaurants are used to it! Ask about other options for side dishes instead of just accepting whatever it comes with.
Do your research! If you know where you are going, take some time to look up the menu. This will make ordering much easier as you won’t be as tempted to make an unhealthy choice if you decide what you are getting ahead of time.
Many menus now list nutritional information and even have a section with healthier choices. If not on the menu, nutrition information can typically be found on the restaurant website. Utilize these tools!
Skip the bread
Are you a repeat offender of filling up on bread and losing your appetite for the meal? Tell the server to hold the bread basket and ask for some starter salads instead.
Watch your portions
The entrees given at restaurants are often 2-3 times the recommended serving size. Try splitting an entree with someone or ask for half the meal to be put in a to-go box when it is served. The many distractions at restaurants make it harder to be mindful so help yourself by cutting down on your portion size from the start!
Watch the wording
Many times restaurants will use certain adjectives in the description to make a dish sound more appetizing but these words also shed some light on its nutritional value. Be on the look-out for words like crispy, creamy, stuffed,etc. that usually means it’s high in saturated fat.
Be mindful of your beverages
Remember that beverages can have calories too! Be mindful when ordering alcohol or other drinks. Slowly sip your drink or alternate with water. Not only does alcohol add calories but it can also leave us more susceptible to overeating and making less-mindful choices.
It takes the brain about 20 minutes to register that you are full. Again, restaurant portions are much bigger than an average meal so it can be very beneficial to take your time while eating. Those who eat quickly often overeat, which can be hundreds of excess calories when given restaurant size portions.
Similar to entrees, the desserts at restaurants are much larger than a normal serving of dessert at home. Something like a simple piece of chocolate cake can have a few hundred calories, loads of sugar and lots of saturated fat. Trying having tea or coffee to end your meal or cleanse your palate with a mint. If there is one dessert that you are really dying to try, then order it and split it with the table!
Don’t feel guilty
The most important rule when eating out is enjoy yourself and don’t feel guilty! Dining out is just one meal of the day and will not have much effect on your weight, even if you ignore the rest of these tips. The problem is people often take one meal out as an excuse to eat poorly the entire day or even several days to weeks following. Isolate the situation and enjoy that meal but get right back with your usual plan after. Happy Dining!
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