When was the last time you went out to eat? It probably wasn’t that long ago as most people eat out at least once a week, if not more. Eating out is a very common experience for many people, but it is also something many people struggle with. Whether it is going out to lunch with co-workers, celebrating your birthday at a steak house, or catching up with friend over brunch, it is possible to make good choices and stay on track while eating out if you follow these rules.
Plan ahead Do some research and look the menu up online and pick out a few healthy selections ahead of time. When it comes time to order you will already know what you plan to eat and will be less tempted by other things on the menu.
Be the first to order This is especially helpful when dining with a large group. When you order first you won’t be as tempted to change your mind when you hear what someone else is getting. Additionally, one of the best things you can do to not over eat is to not over order food. You can always order more food if you are still hungry, but you can’t send it back!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or customize your order Your server should be knowledgeable about the menu and is there to help you, use them! Inquire about portion sizes, if you are able to sub a side salad for French fries, if you can customize your order, or if an entrée is big enough to split. It also doesn’t hurt to ask if you can omit or get higher calorie condiments on the side. Items like cheese, salad dressing, mayonnaise, avocado, and sour cream can ruin an other wise healthy meal.
Make some compromises There is something about going out to eat that makes us want to splurge. Having apps, cocktails, and dessert on top of a main course can really put you over on your calories. Instead of doing all three, try to pick just one. Sticking to wine, light(ish) beer, and hard liquor with non-sugary mixers like club soda will be much lower calorie than having a margarita, sangria, or mojito. Similarly with food, if you really want a burger, have a burger, but get a side salad instead of fries. Learning how to indulge in moderation is a healthy habit that will allow you to enjoy what you eat, but still maintain a healthy weight.
Simple is best Order foods that are cooked in a simple manner and pay attention to the terminology used on the menu. Hone in on the veggies and meats as much as possible and try to avoid dishes that describe food as fried, crispy, battered, or buttered. Instead, look for key words like steamed, broiled, and grilled.
Never show up starving You never want to show up starving to a restaurant because you will be more likely to over order and over eat (especially if there are apps, chips, or bread). Good intentions to eat healthy go out the window when we are extra hungry. Eat lighter at the meals leading up to bank a little extra room, but don’t skip all together. It can help to have a small snack like carrots and hummus or fruit and a cheese stick before hand.
Take charge of what you can control You might not always have control over where you are eating or what is being offered, but you always have control over how much you eat. If complimentary bread or chips are being offered, place them on the other side of the table and turn down refills. Eat slow and enjoy what you are eating. Don’t feel the need to clean your plate. Ask for a doggie bag to take home leftovers.