Eating Out Dos and Don’ts

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You Can Eat Out and Still Lose Weight!

Sometimes it’s hard to believe it because of the restaurant  portion sizes, bottomless bread baskets and all those high-calorie entries. But avoiding restaurants altogether isn’t a realistic approach to weight loss.

Here is a list of 10 dos and don’ts when eating out:

  • Practice portion control: Some restaurant portions can be two, three, even four times the normal size, especially fast food meals. Keep your portions in check by ordering a salad as a starter and then splitting a main entrée with a friend. Or creating your own scaled-down meal from a couple of appetizers or side dishes.
  • Make special requests: You’re paying for that meal, so you’re entitled to make special requests or slight changes. Why not say can I have that without butter? Grilled? With the sauce on the side? Or I’d like mixed greens instead of fries with my sandwich.
  • Downsize: Super-sized fast food meal options can be loaded with calories. Either order something small, like a basic burger. Or order yourself a children’s meal.
  • Watch out for extras: The average burger with ketchup, lettuce and tomato isn’t so bad. But one with the extras is usually a caloric nightmare. Skip bacon, cheese, mayonnaise, double-burger patties and extra pieces of bread.
  • Have guidelines: Decide on some guidelines before you go to a restaurant, and stick to them. Skip the all-inclusive (prix fixe) menu and opt for à la carte selections. Doing so might not be as economical, but you’ll probably eat less. Take one piece of bread, then ask your server to remove the breadbasket from the table. Check out these other restaurant marketing tips.
  • Don’t drink too much: A drink with dinner is fine, but too many margaritas may wreak your dieting resolve. Keep your appetite under control by alternating alcoholic beverages with non-caloric sodas or sparkling water. And not drinking alcoholic beverages on an empty stomach.
  • Don’t go too heavy: Salad bars are great, but those extra toppings can sabotage your seemingly diet-conscious choices. Go light on croutons, grated cheese and bacon. Opt for small amounts of low-fat or non-fat dressings on the side.
  • Break down language: If you don’t know what a preparation term means, ask. In general, though, the following words translate into high-fat, high-calorie dishes: Au gratin, scalloped, hollandaise, parmigiana, scampi, bolognese.
  • Don’t clean your plate: You paid for it so you have to eat it, right? Wrong. Just think of the health and emotional costs of those extra calories on your body. Downsize by eating half the meal and doggie-bagging the rest. Pushing your plate away when you’re full. And remember to eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes for your body to recognize that it’s full.
  • Set a budget: Determine how much you’re willing to eat before looking at the menu. You can give yourself some leeway by scheduling some exercise on or near days you plan to eat out. Putting in gym time or going for a brisk walk will help offset a little extra eating. And remember, be flexible. You can loosen up a bit on special occasions, as long as you eat carefully most of the time. Just don’t let every day become a special occasion.

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