I love to eat out at restaurants, and the older I get, the more I want to eat out! If you are on a weight loss journey or weight maintenance journey, sometimes eating out can be a major road block to your long term goals. Well, don't let it be. Make it more about getting out of the house, being with friends and family, and appreciating not having to do the dishes for a night! I have some little tricks to help you have fun going out to eat AND not having to stress over too many calories or too much fat!
1. Pack Snacks
This is geared more towards fast food eating, but still a great tip. Pack some healthy snacks if you are going on a trip or going to be away from home for the day, to avoid stopping to buy fast food. Most fast food is very high calories, fat, and sodium. Some good ideas are nuts, crackers, fresh fruit that doesn't have to be refrigerated (like a banana or an apple). You will be saving calories and money! (Always a WIN!)
2. Choose your drink carefully
Choose water, unsweetened tea, and other drink without added sugar. Nobody wants to waste calories on a drink...unless you want to waste them on alcohol and that's a different post! :)
3. Salads are your friend!
You can always start a meal with a side salad packed with vegetables. Choose a low calorie salad dressing if you like. I, personally, like the regular salad dressing, so I ask for it on the side and dip as I go. I do it to save calories, but I also do it so that if I have any salad left, it won't be drowning in salad dressing and I can save it for later. And, if you can order a side salad right when you order your drink, you may avoid the bread binge.
4. Share a main dish
Find a friend or family member who likes to share! I love to do this, and my mama likes to do it too! So, I love eating with her because I always know I will only eat half! And guess what? I am nice and full when I finish. Lots of times, when you order the whole entree', you feel as though you'll waste money if you don't eat it all and this is when people tend to overeat. So go ahead! Find a friend to share with - you will usually end up sharing the bill too!! Never hurts to save money AND eat less!
5. Choose from the appetizer menu or side item menu
If you don't have anyone to share with, you can always order an appetizer or a side dish. These are usually smaller portions and less expensive. WIN-WIN!
6. Fill your plate with vegetables!
These days, low carb options are on many menus. Look for those low carb meals - they are usually high in protein and mostly vegetables. If they don't show low carb on the menu, look for meals that are light on buns, bread and potatoes. If you can choose two vegetables, go with that.
7. Choose cooking methods wisely.
If you can, choose foods that are grilled, broiled or steamed. They will be lower in calories, fat and sodium. Try to avoid the foods and dishes that are swimming in butter or are fried. Those are empty calories and not very nutritious.
8. Skip the buffet
Buffets are a disaster if you are trying to eat healthier and lose weight. They are also usually more expensive too. Again, you feel like you have paid all this money, and you want to get your money's worth. Most choices on a buffet are also VERY carbohydrate heavy. Not to mention, the sheer food safety side of buffets scare me!
9. Plan ahead
This may sound like common sense I know, but some people actually don't think about an hour ahead of themselves, much less 8 hours. If you had a big lunch, aim for a light dinner option. Or, if you are planning to have a big dinner, make sure you plan to have a light lunch. And, if you have any input in choosing the restaurant, try to choose a place that has a variety of menu options.
10. You don't always have to make a "happy plate"!
This is my favorite tip of all for eating healthy anywhere! I tend to order what I want to eat, and eat only half of it. I will then take the other half home with so that I can eat it later. This way, I don't leave feeling stuffed and guilty. And, sometimes I even have room for a little chocolate :)
So, next time a friend or family member wants to go out to eat, don't freak out and think that your day's calories are out of the window! Plan ahead, choose wisely, and eat 1/2! I promise, you will not regret it!