Eating out is a part of almost everyone life and being on a diet shouldn’t prohibit you from enjoying this fun treat. Luckily many restaurants today offer healthy options and some even cater to different diet plans like the Atkins and South Beach Diets.
The rules to sticking to your diet while eating out are the same as when you prepare your own food. Fill up on fruits and vegetables and eat lean meats and fish in small portions. Stay away from all those rolls!
Whether you’re having lunch with the gang, or enjoying a romantic dinner for two, you can enjoy delicious-tasting foods that are low-in calories and good for you, with just a little forethought and planning. Here’s some tips that might help you stick to your diet while enjoying restaurant cuisine.
1. Think Ahead. Get a menu from the restaurant if you are not familiar with their dishes and select a healthy dish ahead of time. This can save you from ordering something fattening under the duress of hunger pangs at the restaurant.
2. Order first. Be the first one in your group to order and you won’t be tempted to change your mind and order some deliciously fattening dish that one of your companions has orderd.
3. Ask for smaller portions. Don’t be afraid to ask for a kids or seniors sized portion. Most restaurants will accommodate you — and often you’ll pay less as well!
4. Ask about the preparation of any dish you plan to order. You want to avoid anything that is cooked in butter and always ask if they have a heart healthy or fat free option.
5. Drink a large glass of water before the meal. This will help you digest easier, feel full faster and therefore eat less.
6. If everything on the menu is high in fat or calories, ask if the chef could prepare a plate of fresh fruit and vegetables. Many restaurants offer a vegetarian selection, so if you don’t see it on the menu, ask.
7. When ordering meat or fish, ask that it be grilled or broiled, and prepared without oil or butter. (When you eat it, use lemon or herbs and spices to give it flavor rather than heavy sauces).
8. Order an appetizer and a salad as your meal. Or a soup and salad. For dessert, choose fresh fruit.
9. When choosing soup, remember that cream-based soups have many more calories than broth-based ones.
10. If you’re having a full meal, split the appetizer and desert with your companion.
11. If you decide to order pasta, tomato sauce has fewer calories than cream-based sauces, just like soup.
12. Choose breadsticks over bread, or if you eat bread, don’t add butter. Stay away from muffins and croissants, and choose whole grain over white.
13. Choose steamed vegetables instead of baked potatoes or other starches. Again, use lemon and herbs and spices rather than butter to flavor them with.
14. Whenever possible, eat like the Europeans do, and have your biggest meal at lunchtime. Not only will you save money, but you’ll cut down on calories at the same time!
15. Take the time to enjoy your meal. Savor the flavors and textures of your food, and enjoy the company you’re with. When you eat slowly, you give your body’s internal clock the time it needs to know when you’ve had enough. When you’re full, stop eating. Ask your server to remove your plate so you’re not tempted to keep eating while you wait for your companion to finish.
16. Ask for salsa on your baked potatoes, rather than sour cream and butter. Not only is salsa much lower in calories, but it adds a “spicy” flavor to potatoes.
17. Order salad dressings and sauces “on the side.” This gives you more control of how much to use. Another tip for salad dressing — rather than pouring the salad dressing on your salad, dip your fork into the dressing first, and then into the salad. You’ll get the same amount of flavor, without all the added calories!
18. Choose brown rice over white rice (or french fries), whole grain breads and rolls over white. Not only are they lower in calories, but they are better for you.
19. Stay away from “all you can eat” buffets and salad bars. It’s too easy to lose track of the amount of food you’re eating, even when it’s salads. If that’s your only choice, then stay away from the pasta, marinated salads, cheeses and fruit salads with whipped cream. Stick to soups, raw vegetables and fresh fruits.
20. Have your soup first. It will help to fill you up, and most soups have fewer calories.
21. If you’re craving something sweet, and don’t want fresh fruit, choose sorbet. If you absolutely HAVE to have the chocolate sauce, use the same trick as you did with the salad dressing — dip your fork into it first, then your dessert.
22. Split your dessert with your companion. You’ll still feel like you got to be indulgent, and you’ll only have to exercise half as long to burn off the extra calories!
23. When ordering sandwiches, order them with mustard only, rather than mayonnaise. Not only does mustard have almost no calories, but you won’t miss the mayo!
24. If the portion you were served is large, only eat half of it. Take the other half home. Not only will you get two meals for the price of one, but you’ll cut the calories in half as well!
25. Go for a walk after eating. Stroll along the beach, walk through a park, visit a zoo. You’ll burn calories and get your exercise at the same time!