Who would ever think that going to a restaurant could be a stressful event? But for millions of people trying to lose weight, it’s a reality. Between the tantalizing dish options and social fear of being labeled “the dull one” by friends, it takes a lot of willpower to stay on track. Or does it? There are actually a few tricks you can rely on to ensure that you don’t stray from your plan and still have a good time. It is not impossible to eat healthy while dining out!
1. Start By Getting Full.
While your dinner companions dive into the breadsticks that usually come before your meal, you can feel satisfaction in having knowledge they don’t. If you start by eating foods with a lot of fiber, like a salad or veggie appetizer, you will wind up eating less overall. Studies have shown eating a low-calorie first course enhances the feeling of fullness and lowers the total number of calories eaten during the meal. Be aware of how much dressing is used on your salad or appetizer. The recommended amount is no more than two tablespoons. To make things easy ask for the dressing in a cup on the side.
2. Stay Away From Sugary Drinks
Try to avoid beverages that contain large amounts of sugar (yes, this means you margaritas). Drinks that are high in sugar are also high in calories, and research from Harvard University found that people who drink sugary beverages do not feel as full as if they had eaten the same calories from solid food. Drink water or unsweetened tea and to avoid the excessive calorie consumption in drinks. If cocktails must be a part of the experience, look for a less sugary option, like wine or beer. And of course always use common sense when consuming alcohol!
3. Contol Your Pasta Portion
Eating at an Italian restaurant? If you decide to go with a pasta dish, be very aware of the portion distortion that often happens at a restaurant. The normal serving size of a cup of pasta is only 220 calories. According to research from New York University, a typical dinner portion of pasta at a restaurant can be 480 percent larger than a cup. That’s over 1,000 calories! Try sharing a plate of pasta or eating half and taking the rest home in a doggy bag. This will help you avoid eating too many calories at once and save money on the bill!
4. Make Healthy Swaps
The side dishes that come with your main course can be switched for healthier alternatives that pack a high nutritional punch without taking away from the overall meal experience. For instance, if your dish comes with white bread or rice, ask the waiter for brown rice or whole-grain bread. Swap out French fries for steamed vegetables. Just like your starter salad or vegetable appetizer, these friendly swaps will make you feel fuller faster due to their high fiber content. So don’t be afraid to ask the server questions about the options available to substitute into your meal.
The last important thing to remember about eating out is this: if you feel like you succumbed to temptation and “slipped up,” don’t beat yourself up. You have the confidence and information to know how to correct your course if you veer off path. It happens to the best of us every now and then. That’s life, so embrace every second of it!