Everyone knows how important a healthy diet is when trying to lose weight. But staying on your diet can be difficult when you go out to eat, or simply need a quick meal while away from home. Fortunately there are ways to stay true to a healthy meal plan while eating out if you follow these simple rules.
You might already know the place you’ll be going and most of the meals they serve. If you don’t, check online to see if they have a menu and information about the different items and how they are prepared. Make your selection ahead of time. If you need to call the restaurant for further information, go right ahead. Check to see if it’s possible to prepare your dish in a special way – like ordering sauce on the side.
Snack healthy before you leave the house.
Or even as you are driving to the location. Have a healthy snack with some protein and maybe some healthy carbs. An easy thing would be a good protein bar or a handful of nuts. If you have them before you leave the house, stop long enough to brush your teeth so you won’t grab another bar or handful. This extra protein should make it easier to resist the bread tray or chips that have a lot of processed carbs and fats with very little nutritional value.
Place your order first if possible.
Okay, if you are on a date, you might want to be a little more polite. But if you’re with a bunch of friends, pop right up when the waiter asks who’s ready to order. Before that, try not to get into any conversations about what everyone is ordering. Hearing about all the less healthy choices everyone is considering is only going to make it more difficult to stick with your previously determined order.
Soup or salad choices.
Here’s a rule of thumb – if it is opaque or creamy looking, avoid it. If the soup of the day is a broth-based soup with lots of veggies, that’s a good choice. If there is a lot of pasta in the soup, eat around most of it. If the salad is fresh and has lots of crunchy veggies, ask for your dressing on the side and use this fun idea. Dip the ends of the tongs of your fork in the dressing getting just enough to lightly coat them about ½ inch up the tongs. Then scoop up a decent-sized mouthful of salad. You’ll get the flavor of the dressing without a lot of extra fat and calories.
Tips on toppings.
When it comes to toppings like butter, creams, croutons, or anything else that has a high fat content or fried in fat, skip it. You could use the sauce on the side in the same way as the dressing on the side, or ask for them to hold it off completely. You might also consider asking for a fresher or veggie-based topping. Salsa, fresh herbs, mustard, catchup, steak sauce, etc. can all enhance flavors without adding mayo or other fats to the meal. And if you are doing a salad bar type meal, stick with undressed crisp raw veggies and pass by most of the other options. If you feel a need for a special treat, decide on one topping to allow yourself. Put one small spoonful of it on the side of your plate so you can have a taste of it every couple of bites.
Keywords to scope on your meat order.
Just because you are watching your calories doesn’t mean you can’t have red meat. Look for “choice” or “select.” They usually mean the fat content is lower. Also “round” cuts tend to be less fatty. But whatever your choice, make sure you know how they are cooking it. Broiled, steamed, poached, and grilled are all great options. Stay away from sautéed, smothered, breaded, or deep-fried. The same holds true if you order a poultry or fish dish as well.
Skinny up the side dishes.
The best side dish is going to be steamed veggies with no butter or sauce. Ask for a few lemon or lime wedges to make the flavor pop on the veggies. Then add a bit of fresh-ground black pepper. Yum. Did you know that lemon and black pepper together will make your food taste salted without any additional salt? If you have a potato, go for a naked baked one. Ask for some salsa to top it off and you’ll have a gourmet meal everyone else wants to taste.
Best choices for drinks are water, un-sugared tea, or seltzer. If you feel like you want to bust out a bit and enjoy a drink with a little kick, go for one glass of wine or a beer. Just one! Don’t go for a shot of something or a cocktail. Those drinks usually have hundreds or calories with minimal nutritional value. Worse still, if you get a buzz going, it’s going to be more difficult to keep to your eating plan.
Take half home with you.
When you first place your meal order, tell the waiter you want a to-go container brought to you with your meal. Most restaurant meals are larger than a suggested portion size. Some are even three or four portion sizes. So, as soon as you get your meal delivered, separate each item into equal halves and put one-half of each into the to-go container. That way, as you are chatting, you won’t be picking at the remaining food on the plate until it’s gone.
Looking for more information on these tips, go to 9-weight-loss-rules.