Whether you are going out for a special occasion or just don’t want to cook, it is easy to blow your diet going out to eat.
Below are some tips that have helped me and my friends enjoy a meal at a restaurant but not blow our diets.
1.) Eat Until Satisfied
Eating until you are satisfied sounds like a no-brainer, right? Satiety and being full are actually two different things. How many times have you eaten until you are miserable?
When you eat only until you are satisfied, your body is telling you it has enough food for now. It is surprising how much less you eat if you stop eating when you feel satisfied.
This means no more cleaning your plate; Eat until satisfied and pack the rest for later.
Tip: Eat foods on your plate in the order of calories; lowest first. This means you eat your vegetables first. Saving the calorie dense foods until last will help you fill up before eating a lot of calories.
2.) Eat Slower
Eating until satisfied and eating slower go hand in hand. When you take the time to enjoy your food, your will be able to recognize the signal to stop eating before you get overstuffed.
Growing up, short school lunches and now short work lunches have conditioned us to eat our meals in a short amount of time. We can’t spend the time to eat slow and enjoy our food unless we want to be late.
Naturally, going out to eat we follow this same pattern and eat quickly. When you eat out, take care to eat slow and enjoy your food; you will be able to control how much food you are eating easier.
3.) Choosing the Right Place
If you don’t have your heart set on a place to eat at, choosing a restaurant with a varied menu will give you great healthy choices for dishes.
When you are on a diet, choosing places that offer healthy dishes is important. Avoid all-you-can-eat restaurants at all costs. There is a lot of temptation to pile on food and eat until your diet is ruined for a week.
Tip:If you just can’t avoid going to an all-you-can-eat, order your meal from the menu so you can have a controlled portion size. Usually this food is prepared fresh, so you won’t have to eat the 3 hour old mashed potatoes and broccoli.
3.) Check the Menu Before Leaving Home
Here is the scenario: You get seated at a restaurant and the service asks “and what can I get for you?” Being unprepared, you frantically look at the menu, look around at other tables and pick a meal that sounds good instead of something healthy. 20 minutes later you are served a double bacon mushroom cheeseburger with a side of chilli cheese fries and coleslaw.
This happens every day and is a major reason people’s diets get ruined. If you are serious about your diet and your weight goals, you must be prepared.
Check the menu out online before you go out so you know what you want to order before you arrive. This means next time you see all of the juicy burgers and steaks passing by, you will not have to worry about ordering something that won’t fit in your diet.
Tip: Knowing what you want to eat before you get to the restaurant keeps you from holding up the table with the awkward silence filled anxiety attack you call choosing something to eat. I mean come on, we already ordered and we’re hungry.
4.) Don’t Leave the House Hungry
If you leave the house hungry, you are more apt to order your favorite cheat foods and ruin your diet. If you are trying to stick to your diet, eating out will challenge your willpower.
Eating accordingly throughout the day will keep you from being starved by the time you get to the restaurant. Eating lighter throughout the day allows you to eat a heartier meal out; use this to your advantage and treat yourself without blowing your diet.
Tip: Having a cheat meal is good for the metabolism, you need to have some calorie cycling.
5.) Watch Liquid Calories
Nothing will blow a diet faster than not accounting for liquid calories. Sodas, sugary drinks, and alcohol all are packed with calories and sugar; if you don’t account for them your diet will be blown.
Choosing water, unsweetened tea, or other drinks without added sugars will keep from adding too many extra calories to your meal. Enjoy a drink if you have allotted the calories! You’ve worked hard to ensure it won’t ruin your diet for the day. Alcoholic beverages can have a lot of unwanted calories and carbs; a glass of wine, light beer, vodka and tonic or a simple martini are healthy alternatives.
Drinking water throughout your meal will help you eat slower and enjoy your food.
Starting your meal off with a salad will help control your appetite and make you feel satisfied sooner. Salads with a lot of vegetables are a great source of vitamins and nutrients.
The vegetables in salads are low calorie, but adding meats, cheeses, and dressing will skyrocket the calories. Ask for salad dressing on the side when you order a salad. This will give you exact control over how much you use.
Tip: Dip your fork in your dressing and then get a bite of salad. This will give you a taste of the dressing while keeping the amount used at a minimum. Doing this will keep you from having to drink salad dressing on the last few bites of salad.
7.) Skip the Bread Basket
Who doesn’t like fresh, warm bread or rolls? I know I do and my mouth is watering just thinking about it, but if you are trying to stay on your diet, just say no to the bread basket!
Ask the service to remove the basket from your table to keep you from succumbing to your temptations. If you just cannot go without a roll, eat one without the butter to help salvage some of your calories for your meal.
Vegetables are great because they are filling and do not contain many calories. Ask your server to double or triple the servings of vegetables and offer to pay extra. Many times asking for extra vegetables, you will not get charged extra. Another tactic you can use is to ask for a smaller portion of meat and ask for extra vegetables instead.
Choosing main dishes that include vegetables such as stir fry or kebobs are a great way to add filling food to your meal without the calories.
Tip: Eating vegetables is very important to get your vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Be careful adding butter or other fats to the vegetables; although it is tasty, you will add too many calories if you are not careful.
9.) Choose a Healthy Alternative
Most of your fattening favorite foods have a healthy alternative. Many businesses have a ‘heart healthy’, ‘light’, ‘low fat’ menu and these can be great to order from. Be sure to do your homework, sometimes these light menus are not as healthy as you think.
Ordering foods that have been steamed, boiled, grilled or broiled are healthier than their fried or sauteed counterpart.
Ask your server if you can get a baked potato instead of french fries. The skin on the potato is nutrient dense and is great for someone on calorie restricted diet. Topping your baked potato with vegetables or salsa is a tasty and healthier alternative to sour cream and butter.
As much as it kills me to say it, cheese dips, creamy sauces, and gravy are all very high in calories. Choosing salsa over cheese dips will give you another helping of vegetables and cut some calories.
10.) Portion Control
Being on a diet doesn’t mean you can’t have delicious food. Eating fried chicken or some lasagna is possible if you control your portion sizes. Portion control is extremely important regardless of what type of foods you are eating.
Many of the 2 for $20 type deals and other similar specials seem to have smaller regular servings compared to regular dishes. Ordering these can help give you a smaller portion while also giving you a tasty treat.
Order small or medium portions at a restaurant to help keep calories lower. Order appetizer sized portions or a side dish of an entree. Remember, every little bit counts. Sharing a main dish with a friend is another alternative.
Tip: Ask your server for a box as soon as you get your food and box half of it. This will give you food to eat on later and also keeps you in control of your portions.
Dessert is the devil for a person on a caloric deficit. With restaurants boasting about their triple chocolate chunk brownie volcano blast, it’s hard to not order one and just bury your face in it!
Choose fruits for dessert; this will give you the sweet taste you are wanting without the calories.
All of these tips are easy to follow and with proper preparation, you can eat out and come home knowing you haven’t blown all of your hard work.
If you have any tips that you use or if you have any questions or comments, leave them below!