You’re watching your calories so that you can lose weight, but that doesn’t mean you have to turn down your friend’s invitation to dine out or skip your family’s next celebratory meal. Here are a few tips for eating out while staying healthy and sticking to your diet.
Check the Menu Before You Go
Most restaurants have their menus online, and some even share the nutritional facts for different items. If possible, check the menu in advance and plan on ordering something while eating out that is low calorie and helps you stick to your diet plan. If you don’t see any healthy options, see if you can compromise. Maybe your partner wants to go to a greasy burger joint, but you could talk them into going to a restaurant that serves both burgers and salads.
Ask Your Server to Hold the Bread
If you’re eating at a restaurant that normally sets out bread, popcorn, or chips before you order, ask your server to hold the pre-meal snack. The calories in these snacks can add up quickly, and if you think you’ll keep reaching for more, it’s best to eliminate the temptation.
Start with a Salad
Green salads are high in fiber, so they’ll help fill you up while eating out without tanking a low calorie diet. If you start your meal with a salad, you’ll be less likely to overindulge on a high-calorie entrée because you simply won’t be as hungry. Just make sure you’re avoiding high-calorie salad add-ins, like bacon, cheese, and creamy sauces. Ask if you can get the dressing on the side so that you can control how much you add.
Ordering a sugary drink is a quick way to add empty calories to your meal when eating out, so stick with the healthy option of water. If you need a little bit of flavor, order an unsweetened iced tea or ask for lemon wedges to add to your water.
Ask for Healthy Substitutes
Eating healthy at restaurants is often as easy as changing a few small things in your favorite dish. Even if substitutions aren’t always listed on the menu, most restaurants will accommodate your request if it’s something their kitchen can handle. For example, you might be able to get a grilled chicken sandwich rather than a fried one, or you could ask to swap out the fries that come with your order for a side salad.
Cut Your Entrée in Half
Restaurants often serve large portions that contain more calories than the average meal, so to stay low calorie while eating out, cut your entrée in half once it arrives and commit to saving half for later. If you’re worried you’ll be tempted to eat the second half after you finish the first, you could plan on splitting an entrée with someone else at your table or ask your server if they can box up half the meal before they bring it to you.
It takes time for the satiety-related hormones in your body to signal to your brain that you’re full. That means that there could be a delay of about 20 minutes from when you’re actually satiated to when you realize you feel full. To prevent yourself from overeating during this window, eat slowly and drink plenty of water. Enjoy the restaurant environment and the company at your table. You may be pleasantly surprised to find yourself feeling full well before you finish the food on your plate.
Following these tips for eating out and staying healthy can help you limit your calorie intake, but if you find you’re still having trouble losing weight after cutting calories, it may be time to talk to an experienced weight loss doctor. Call Diet Doc today for a consultation with a medical professional.