Planning to eat out? Don’t panic. Dining out won’t ruin your dieting efforts if you plan in advance. The meals at most popular restaurants are generally higher in fat and calories than your home-cooked meals. But as restaurateurs respond to increasing demands for healthy options, it’s a lot easier to dine out with friends without compromising your diet. Here are ten tips for eating out on a diet.
1. Choose the restaurant
Supportive friends and family won’t mind if you choose the restaurant especially if you’re paying for the meal. Research the restaurants in your area by checking the menus online and comparing the options. Don’t make snap decisions to eat out at an unfamiliar restaurant. Skip all-you-can-eat outlets and opt for those with extensive salad bars.
2. Decide what you’re going to eat
Start with a general idea of what you plan to eat. Will you have chicken, turkey, or pasta? Then, peruse the menu and highlight the healthiest options. If possible, decide what you’ll order so you won’t stray when you’re confronted with unhealthy options. Most restaurants have at least three healthy options so be sure you read the menu attentively.
3. Order first
Don’t let your good intentions fall by the wayside after you listen to what your friends order. If you order your meal first, you’ll not only maintain your resolve to eat healthy but also set the tone for others at your table to choose healthy options. It’s so tempting to order a fatty meal that your friends love, but do you really need to eat that meal?
4. Watch out for caloric landmines
If the waiter offers to bring freebies to your table, you should politely decline, providing your dinner guests approve. Breadsticks, cookies and other munchies are calorie landmines that will explode on your waistline. Take charge of your dining and request a healthy option like whole wheat bread or crackers. You should also order a glass of water, which will help you feel fuller.
5. Pay attention to the buzz words
You can quickly spot the high-calorie dishes on the menu if you know what to look for. The terms, battered, gravy, breaded, creamy, smothered, crispy, a la crème, whipped, stuffed, crusted, glazed, sticky, gooey, and cheesy are indications of meals with extra calories you can do without. Positive terms like baked, grilled, seasoned, steamed, sautéed, and broiled might be attached to healthy choices.
6. Tailor the meal
There’s no harm in requesting a change in the menu. Ask for steamed veggies instead of creamy potato salads or greasy fries. If you don’t want your chicken smothered in sauce, ask them to put the sauce on the side or leave it out altogether. Get the salad dressing on the side as most dressings are loaded with calories. Ask them to lighten up on the cheese if you’re having pizza. You can also ask them to leave out the breading on your vegetables.
7. Wrap it up
A single serving at most restaurants could probably feed a small army, so ask the waiter for a to-go box as soon as they bring your meal. Put away half the meal before you begin eating. That will remove the temptation to keep eating until you’ve cleaned the plate. Don’t be ashamed of doing eat. There’s nothing wrong in practicing portion control.
8. Soup and salad
Just like your glass of water, ordering a soup (make sure it’s broth based) and a salad before the main course will fill you up, and you’ll eat fewer calories from the main course. Stick to a pure vegetable salad without the dressing or ask them to serve it on the side. It’s a tasty and easy way to cut your calorie intake.
9. Portion control
Endless pasta menus provide great value for money. While that might be a pasta lover’s dream, it would wreak havoc on your waistline if you have several portions. Order portion-controlled dishes or judge your portions if your plate arrives full. Master the art of mindful eating in order to achieve your weight loss and health goals faster.
Don’t mess up your otherwise successful meal with a high-calorie dessert. Fruity desserts are the best options. Try frozen yogurt, fruit pie, or fruit cake made with fresh fruit. Offer to split a dessert with a friend if you want to exercise caution. If there are some small-sized desserts, you can opt for them too.
Sticking to your diet plan when eating out can be as easy as you usually eat at home. Just make smart, healthy choices, eat mindfully, and avoid overeating. Give these ten tips a try next time you go out to eat to avoid extra calories and keep your digestion healthy. Do you think it’s a challenge for dieters to track restaurant food?