It’s no secret that when you’re trying to lose weight or make healthier food choices, dining out can cause its fair share of temptations. From portion sizes to added ingredients, dessert options and peer pressure, it can be tough to navigate the dining experience and still feel in control.
The journey to healthier eating, however, doesn’t mean you have to forego an evening with friends or miss out on the new restaurant everyone is talking about. Instead, a little bit of planning and understanding common food traps can help you feel satisfied and still on track to reach your goal.
Below are a few tips to help you dine out successfully.
Dining Out Tips
First and foremost, don’t feel pressured to eat like everyone else. Other diners may order larger portions or unhealthy meals – don’t let that deter you or make you feel bad for choosing to eat healthy. Also, consider substituting side dishes. Instead of ordering the customary French fries or mashed potatoes with your meal, ask for a salad or steamed vegetables. Most restaurants offer these substitutions at no (or very little) additional cost.
A salad can be a great option, but sometimes the dressings and other sauces can turn a healthy meal into a not-so-healthy meal. When dining out, ask for these on the side. That way you can control the amount you consume or find a lighter alternative.
It’s also important to know how your food is prepared, and avoid foods that are fried. Choose dishes that are:
These preparations are typically healthier options; and if the menu isn’t clear, ask your server how the dish is prepared before you order. Some menus also offer a “light” menu section.
Consider that most restaurant portions are two to three times what a serving should be and that many times when we receive a full portion, we’re tempted to clean our plate. One way to help stop that temptation is to order a smaller portion. If that’s not an option, ask for a to-go container at the beginning of the meal and put half of the meal away for later. Out of sight. Out of mind.
Finally, if you want to order an adult beverage, try a glass of red wine as a lower-calorie alternative to heavy beers and mixed drinks.
If you enjoy eating out, don’t let your weight loss goals keep you from enjoying that experience. There are different steps you can take to help you order from the menu with confidence, knowing that you’re still on track! Substituting side dishes, asking for lighter options and assessing portion sizes, are just a few ways you can dine out successfully.
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