When eating outside, getting through a meal out without consuming hundreds of calories is a tough call... the spread and the temptations simply don’t not allow it to be otherwise!
And trying to avoid a carbohydrate overload is almost impossible. Right?
Well, it is a fact that the more choices there are, the tougher it is to eat healthy – this one is a no brainer, we all know it.
Avoiding eating out is not really an option – just try to remember how many birthday/wedding/anniversary/office party meals you have had to go to over the last month and you will know what I mean.
Learning how to navigate eating out is an almost essential skill to keep your weight in check.
And trust me it is possible!
It all comes down to self-discipline and common sense, really.
A Simple Guide To Navigate Eating Out
Don’t stuff food down quickly: Focus, instead, on taking slow, conscious pleasure in the eating experience.
Don’t have a little of everything: In addition to a sore tummy, this way you won’t really taste and enjoy anything properly.
Don’t try to eat all you can: Grab one fried egg roll, not five. Don't think of eating more as a "good deal." Think about what another helping will cost you health wise.
Follow this simple calorie-control rule:
Keep your plate balanced with 1/4 protein, 1/4 carbohydrates, and 1/2 vegetables. And try to stick to just three kinds of foods – one each from the three food types mentioned above.
This is important because when you try to eat a bit of all, then there is a sensory and textural overload, and every time you switch flavors your brain registers that you are starting the meal and that feeling of being ‘full’ never comes.
Be prepared: If familiar with the place, decide what you're going to order before you get to the restaurant, where the sights and smells can blow even the best of intentions.
Be first to order: Order before anyone else to avoid letting others' choices influence you.
Scan for healthier options: There are always some healthier options lurking in all restaurant menus regardless of the cuisine. Spend some time looking for them and then order. Consciously pick the better choices like steamed/grilled veggies or baked potatoes.
Pairing up hot lean meats (like chicken or turkey breast) with your salad is also a good idea!
Time To Choose Healthy
Avoid anything fried, battered, creamy, pastry-based, cheesy or laden with butter or oily dressings. Also opt for healthy cooking methods – pick foods that are grilled, boiled, stir-fried, steamed, or poached.
Don’t feel embarrassed about making special requests:
Could you leave off the cheese topping? Please skip the fries with my sandwich...
Also, when in doubt, quiz the staff or the chef about what goes in the dish and how it is prepared. Its your health on the line, so don’t be embarrassed.
Portion size: To tackle portion size, tackle your will power. Learn to share among friends – helps satisfy you and still save lots of calories.
Get the leftover food packed: This way you can spread the calories over two meals.
Skip some: Avoid having either appetizers or desserts as these can really rack up the calories and fat. Choose one or the other to go with your entrée.
Choose soups smartly: Having soup as a starter is a brilliant idea but only if it is not thick and creamy. Opt for clear minestrone-style soups or broths minus the heavy paraphernalia.
To cut additional fat, always ask for sauces, buttery, gravy or salad dressings on the side, and request salad, baked potatoes or plain rice instead of chips.
And Drink Wisely...
It’s best to drink water, instead of sodas with your meals. Liquid calories can stack up really fast.
If you choose to drink alcohol, limit your intake to no more than one drink a meal as alcohol can cloud your judgment regarding your food choices and the amount of food you eat too.
Learn: Keep your eyes and ears open, pick up cues about what’s healthy and what's not.
Get real: This isn’t your last restaurant meal. You'll go out to eat again - probably to the very same place - so you don’t have to eat everything that sounds good this time.
Finally, this also helps: Wear snug-fitting, tailored clothing! Going out to eat in elasticised garments is asking for trouble.