When I talk to people as a Health Coach about losing weight, one of my first suggestions is – do not eat out more than one time per week. Well, that is fine for many of us. For others, it is more difficult because maybe your spouse likes to dine out, or you have a group of friends that insist on eating out, or you have a job that requires you to take clients out. Unfortunately, Americans’ lifestyle has changed and eating out is often the “norm.” So, if you must dine out, below are some ideas that may help.
Go out for coffee. Getting coffee or tea instead of a meal out can be just as friendly or intimate way to catch up with friends (and a coffee place may be quieter) in addition to saving yourself some calories. A cup of coffee or tea (black) has zero calories, but one of the fancy coffees with whip cream might have over 500 calories. Be thoughtful when ordering!!
Ask for a “To Go” box when ordering. When your meal arrives, immediately place half in the box and set it aside. If you wait until you are finished, you might change your mind and nibble a little more and a little more. Out of sight – out of mind!
Skip the bread or chips. Mexican restaurants and many fine dining restaurants are notorious for placing cheap carbs on the table before you order. There might be a couple of restaurants with outstanding breads or chips, but usually it’s not worth the calories. Do yourself a favor, and politely refuse the basket of bread or chips and save your calories for the foods that are difficult to prepare at home.
Become familiar with food descriptions. “Lightly sautéed” means doused in oil, “pan-fried” means bathed in butter, and “steamed” veggies often come floating in fat. Most restaurant meals are heavy with added fats. Ask your waitress/waiter about the preparation and request no added butter or oil. Ask for potatoes or veggies “dry” (no added butter or oil). Request condiments on the side.
Pace yourself. I eat fast, which means I can eat too much at a restaurant because they usually give you an excessive amount of food. A couple of tricks for this are to put down your fork or your sandwich between every bite. You could also try to chew your food a prescribed number of times before swallowing. Both of these ideas can help slow your pace of eating and help your body recognize fullness cues before you have overeaten.
Another trick that may work is to “pre-load” your meal by eating a high-volume, low calorie filling food made up of vegetables and water such as a soup or salad before the main course. Of course cream based soups or salads with fatty dressings do not fit this bill.
No matter how you decide to watch your calories, stay aware. If possible, I still recommend keeping your restaurant dining to a minimum!
For more information regarding healthy food choices, contact a registered dietician or Janet Hunt, a certified ACE Health Coach.
By: Janet Hunt
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.