Most people believe that eating out is a way to cheat on their menu. Quickly grab a bite of a fried food item or gulp a smoothie when there’s no time to make yourself a healthy salad. The trouble with eating out is that you cannot downsize – most restaurants have huge portions and ingredients that you would probably not indulge in while eating at home.
Now, before you place your order of a dry salad and cold water while your friends enjoy their steaks and fries, here is a quick guide to keep your diet on track while eating out. All it requires is a little effort and willpower.
Know the Menu before Arriving at the Restaurant
Enjoying your food while eating out always begins with advanced preparation. Think beforehand which meal you will order and how you can customize it to fit your needs. If there is a dessert that you desperately want to try, then you should cut back on the other parts of your meal.
But if you have a hard time controlling your appetite, then eat a handful of dry fruits or fresh fruit before you head out to dine, so you don’t trick yourself into eating the bread basket or other unhealthy options. To stop yourself from going overboard, eat your regular meals at home as usual.
Don’t Overdo Yourself with the Bread Basket
Ask your waiter not to bring the bread basket, fried prawns or salsa first. Instead, request him to bring the entrée along with the meal. Majority of the people overeat bread or starters before their lunch. If the bread is served with your main course, you’ll focus more on eating the actual meal than filling your stomach with carbs.
Experts say, feeding on appetizers can lead to overeating when you’re ordering the main course anyway. Order appetizers like mushroom soup, salad, fresh tuna or vegetables. Avoid foods that are creamy, or crispy.
Liquid Calories Also Add Up to Weight Gain
An average amount of drinking every now and then is still fine, but the calories in alcohol can add up real fast resulting in weight gain. Restaurants double the size of servings so if you think you’re drinking the usual 5-ounce chances are you might be drinking the double of it. To satisfy your cravings, it is suggested to either have a dessert or a drink but not both.
If you want to enjoy a drink, make sure you compliment your meal and drink with a glass of water too. Take small sips, don’t repeat the same beverages and focus more on having a good time rather than drinking the experience away.
Watch Out for the Secret Calories on Salads and Veggies
Salads are definitely a go-to food for every diet conscious person. They can be extremely healthy but only if prepared a certain way. Topped with dressing, oil, loads of cheese, croutons and dry fruits will make you gain a ton of extra calories. You can always ask the server to customize your salad or meal to make it healthier.
If you really want to eat a salad then avoid croutons entirely and ask for the dressing to be served separately. Having control over the amount of dressing you pour in will help you maintain your diet without having to worry about the number of calories added to the salad. You can also ask the waiter to prepare your vegetables in olive oil for the safe side.
Prefer Light Entrees and Eat Short Portions
Dietitians say, order steamed fish or lean meat and avoid all things fried or sautéed. You can have sautéed food at home, but you cannot control the number of calories they add at a restaurant. The best way to decide what to eat is to select 3 options and consult the waiter as to which is the lightest and healthiest meal of all.
Another trick to make yourself eat less at a restaurant is not to touch half of the food on the plate and save it to take it home. Restaurants portions are increasing very fast. The bigger the portion, more amount of calories you will consume.
If you pack your food before digging into it, you will trick yourself into eating small portions and whatever is left on your plate. Also, you can always substitute unhealthy food items with the healthy ones, like steamed brown rice instead of fried rice, or steamed tuna instead of greasy Buffalo wings.
You can seek help from a registered dietician/nutritionist if you aren’t sure about how healthy your eating plan is or you want to change your eating habits. Like medical practitioners, most qualified nutritionists have virtual telemedicine into their practice and you can contact them using your laptop or smartphone.
Don’t Give Into the Sweetness of the Dessert
If you have a sweet tooth and can’t deny a good looking plate of dessert, a platter of fresh fruits or sorbets is a perfect choice. However, before eating the entire plate of calories, always ask for the sizes of portions so you can share it with your foodie partner without feeling guilty about it.
Most people also prefer coffee or tea after their meals. Always ask the server to add nonfat milk instead of whole milk or cream. Also if you eat out on several nights then make sure you limit the dessert to one or two nights only. It should just be treated as a treat and not a regular meal.
Always Choose Quality over Quantity
Food critique, Ruggiero says, if your food doesn’t appear with the right amount of dressing, or sideline then return it back. Make sure you are served what you asked for. The aim is to leave the restaurant feeling satisfied and not guilty. He also says that you can lose weight at any type of restaurant, the goal is to eat right and maintain a healthy bodyweight.