Eating out in a restaurant can be challenging when you are trying to eat healthy and make weight-conscious choices. Things can get out of hand quickly when you are faced with too many options. It’s easy to consume more calories, fat, and sodium in just one restaurant meal than you need for the entire day. With a little planning however, you can make your dining-out experience tasty, enjoyable, and weight-conscious. Before you go out to eat, come up with a dining-out strategy.
Use these 7 tips to help you dine out without overdoing it.
- Be prepared for your dining out experience by checking out the restaurant’s menu ahead of time. Most restaurants have a web site showing their menu. This will allow you to pre-determine your entrée or at least narrow it down to a few choices. You may not get specific nutrition information, but you can get a general idea of which dishes would be a better choice.
- Set the stage for success by starting your meal with a salad packed with veggies. This will help you fill up and feel satisfied sooner. Be sure to ask for salad dressing on the side so you can control how much you use.
- Choose a main dish that is steamed, grilled, baked or broiled instead of fried or sautéed; and avoid anything breaded as this typically means fried. Try to find an entrée that includes vegetables such as a stir fries or kabob. Or you can ask for extra vegetables on the side.
- Order foods that do not have creamy sauces or gravies – and add little or no butter yourself. Be wary of dishes described as “seasoned” as that typically means salty or fatty. When in doubt, ask your waiter or the chef how the dish is prepared.
- If the main entree is larger than you want, set it aside or pack half of it “to go” immediately – before you start eating. Another option is to share it with someone. Or consider ordering an appetizer-sized portion or side dish as your meal instead of a full entrée.
- As a beverage choice, ask for water, unsweetened tea, or another drink without added sugar. Be especially careful when it comes to alcohol as the calories can add up quickly. Because your body can’t store alcohol and must metabolize it right away, other metabolic processes suffer. Your body won’t metabolize sugars and fats as efficiently during the metabolism of alcohol, and drinking can cause your metabolism to slow. This can contribute to weight gain, as can the empty calories found in alcohol.
- If you want dessert, consider ordering fruit. If that just won’t do it for you, ask if someone would like to share a dessert with you. Sometimes just a bite or two is enough to satisfy your taste for something sweet.
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