Recognizing that many people lead busy lives, are out an about and have to eat out more often than they eat at home, I wanted to give some pointers on how I stay in control of how I eat even when I eat out.
1. Check the menu before you go
I find it helpful to look at the menu of the restaurant you are going to before I go. This allows me to make a choice without being influenced by the pictures, what others are eating or the awesome special the waiter has been paid to sell. Many restaurants also have nutrition information on their websites. Believe me; you’ll think twice about eating that chicken alfredo after seeing that it can sometimes contain a whopping 3000 calories!
2. Eat a small snack before you go
There is nothing that can blow a diet faster than being in a restaurant feeling hungry. I’m given the menu and suddenly everything looks good. I have discovered that I think clearer when I am not hungry and can make wiser food decisions. I now keep a stash of nuts in my car and I’ll eat a few just to take the edge off. I also try to have fruit on hand which I’ll eat before I get to the restaurant.
3. Put the fork down.
Those who know me know that this is my favorite saying. In all honesty, many of the restaurant portions are contain 2 or 3 servings. I DO NOT attempt to finish off everything on my plate. I DO divide the dish in half and choose to take the rest to go. I DO share a plate with someone else. I DO stop eating when I am full.
4. Choose vegetables over starches
We have been trained to always eat a vegetable and a starch. But if at all possible, I try to eat a vegetable and a vegetable. That is, I order chicken, fish or steak and choose to forgo the rice, potatoes and pasta and double up on vegetables.
5. Avoid creamy sauces and creamy dressings
A salad with a ton of creamy dressing is NOT good option. Vinaigrettes are a better option than creamy dressings. When I eat out, I usually ask for the dressing on the side and use it sparingly. I like to drizzle some vinegar or squirt a lemon over my salad
6. Grilled and Baked
I also avoid options that are fried and sautéed and instead opt for food that is grilled or baked. And just for the record, I discovered that food that is ‘lightly fried’ or ‘flash fried’ has definitely been completely submerged in cooking oil and therefore regardless of how they label it, it is still DEEP FRIED. Go figure, so I now avoid anything fried regardless of how creative they get with the labeling.
As I have said before, I believe that most things are ok in MODERATION. However if you are in weight loss phase you have to be a little more careful of what you are eating. Sticking to your meal plan is what will ensure your success in losing weight. In essence if you must deviate, deviate thoughtfully and carefully. Once you have reached your goals it does not become a free for all. You don’t want to go back to old habits but you want to remain mindful of how and what you are eating at all times. Hopefully this little guide will help you stay in control when you eat out. Let me know how it goes.