I work with a lot of men and women trying to teach them how to shift their mindset from being on a diet to learning how to create a lifestyle that supports their goals. One of the biggest struggles they have is learning how to eat out at a restaurant without “blowing” their diet. It's much easier to just eat at home, since you know exactly what is going into your food. When eating out, you have no idea just how much fat, sodium, or other hidden calories could be hidden in your meal.
Remember it's not a diet
Ok, you could argue the fact that whether we are on a weight loss diet or not, they way we eat is called “a diet.” The goal here is to learn a lifestyle so for the sake of argument let’s call it your nutrition plan. Yes, it means the same thing but doesn’t it sound nicer? It doesn’t bring up all those old feelings of deprivation, starvation and more importantly that there is a beginning and an end. The secret to permanently losing weight is just that; creating a lifestyle and not a temporary fix.
Eating out is a big part of our social living
I don’t think it’s realistic to think you’re going to avoid restaurants for the rest of your life. So if you are avoiding them while “dieting” what have you learned? Basically nothing. You need to learn how to enjoy a meal out with friends and family without guilt as well as learning to know what you can order while staying on track. After all, you may not be on a diet, per se, but you are striving for a goal, correct? And even though we are talking about how to eat out without blowing your diet, realize that eating out a lot (more than a few times per week) it will make it harder to get to your goal.
What you should & shouldn't order
Try as we might, finding healthy choices on a restaurant menu can be difficult. Hidden fats and large amounts of sodium are used to prepare what we assume are good choices. Once you know what to look for though, you’ve won half of the battle.
Along with the obvious; don’t touch the dinner rolls that you drag through the flavored oil, or high calorie appetizers. As a matter of fact, I’d avoid those altogether! As for your entrées; It’s all in the adjectives.
Avoid items using these:
Do order items using these:
The portion sizes in restaurants have more than doubled since the 1950’s. As soon as your meal is served, give half to the waitress to put in a doggy bag for you take home. Don’t want to bring it home? Give it to a homeless person you see on the way to your car or really give it to your dog!
Drink ice water or sparkling water, do not use cream or sugar in your coffee or tea and avoid alcoholic beverages. If you must indulge go for white wine and only one.
Soups should be broth based and again that warm bread in the basket should be avoided.
Fill up on your salad and be sure to order your dressing on the side. Do not add any butter to your meal and ask for your entrée to be prepared without butter.
The dangers of buffets & salad bars
The most dangerous restaurant feature for many of us is the buffet or loaded salad bar. If the buffet is ordered, careful planning is needed to choose a meal that will provide nutritional balance without excess calories. Don't let the endless buffet be an opportunity to overindulge. Put small portions on your plate, focusing mainly on vegetables and fruits and don't go back multiple times to load up on more food.
Fortunately, restaurants are more accommodating than ever before. A survey by the National Restaurant Association found that nearly 90 percent of table service restaurants would alter food preparations on request. And fast-food restaurants have recently made changes and added new items to accommodate the health- and diet-conscious person; even for us vegans!
Do you have any tips for eating out? Share them below in the comments.
If you are looking for help with your unique dietary and weigh loss needs. Give me a call to schedule a FREE Discovery Call. I’d be happy to help you gain some clarity around your goals, uncover those challenges that are slowing you down from reaching you goals, and help get you re-energized and focused to finally lose the weight and keep it off.
Phone: 978-222-9992 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can can also book an appointment yourself, using my online scheduler. CLICK HERE!
Lisa Swanson is an ACE Certified Health Coach, Personal Trainer and Orthopedic Exercise Specialist as well as a certified AASDN and PN level 1 nutritionist. With over 35 years experience helping people turn their lives around, she is on a mission to provide relevant and useful knowledge to help women in midlife reach their goals.
Check out my interview with the Magnificent Midlife podcast on staying fit and healthy long-term.