Tips for dining out

Seems like we eat out more in the summertime than we do the rest of the year.  Sometimes it’s because we’re on vacation (or taking a “stay-cation”) and we want to relax and have someone else take care of cooking and cleaning up.  Sometimes it’s just too darn hot to think about turning on the stove or oven, and sometimes we’re just enjoying the lazy days of summer.  Whatever the reason, the truth is, dining out can sabotage your healthy eating habits and drastically impact your weight loss.  Believe it or not, a typical restaurant meal can contain your entire calorie allowance for the WHOLE DAY !  Yup, it’s true.  Add a drink or two, maybe an appetizer or desert, and you’ve easily consumed more than 2,000 calories.  But with a little prior planning, you CAN dine out successfully.

First, look up the restaurant’s menu prior to going so you can check out the options and know what you’ll be ordering before you even go.  Pick something baked, grilled, or broiled, and then stick to your plan.  Avoid things that are described as “crispy” or covered in creamy sauces.

Be sure to have a healthy snack, ranging from 100 – 300 calories, within 90 minutes of leaving for the restaurant.  Try some nuts, veggies, or fruit for a healthy dose of filling fiber.  By doing this you won’t be starving when you arrive, and you’ll be able to skip the appetizer without feeling deprived.

When it’s time to order, ask for your meal to be cooked with as little butter or oil as possible, and for sauces to be served on the side.  That way you’ll be in control of how much ends up on your plate (and in your tummy !).  If your meal comes with sides, ask if you can substitute extra veggies instead.  And be sure to drink plenty of water before and during your meal.

When your meal arrives, slow down and chew your food.  Enjoy each bite.  This helps you feel fuller faster and prevents you from over-eating.

And finally, if you absolutely must order desert, split it with someone else at the table.  Have a taste and then put down your fork.  You’ll find that just a small amount curbs your craving for something sweet (and your dining companion finishes the rest for you !)

Use the above tips and when you get home, enjoy the feeling of not being over-stuffed.  Smile as you congratulate yourself for sticking with your plan.

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