Food occupies a pretty big space in our lives. It is the center of entertainment activities, consolation in times of stress and cause for celebration. In fact magazines, some careers and even research are dedicated entirely to food. It is no wonder, with food taking up so much space in our lives we find it hard to control ourselves in its mighty presence. Controlling food intake at home is tough but it is even more challenging in restaurants where individual portions can be mistaken for mini serving platters. Here are some tips for eating out without pigging out. Use them to enjoy guilt free, instead of gut busting, meals. You really can indulge without going overboard.
What to do before you eat out
Plan ahead – when you know you are going to eat out for dinner opt for a high protein breakfast of 500-800 calories. Yes, it sounds like a lot but the satisfaction you feel at breakfast translates to less temptation at dinner.
Monitor calories from lunch and snacks so that dinner doesn’t take you over your daily limit. Better yet, write down everything you eat. Review your notes before choosing your restaurant meal.
Weigh yourself in the morning. The scale will tell you how much if any wiggle room you have. Choose your restaurant meal accordingly. Need a reminder? Where clothes that are a bit snug if you are trying to cut back.
Check out the menu before you go. Decide in advance what you are going to eat.
Have a light snack before you eat out. Ordering when you are starved is almost a guarantee that you will pig out.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Thirst is often mistaken as a sign of hunger. Also, liquids take up room in your stomach so you may eat less.
If you exercise, don’t use your workout as an excuse to eat more. Instead use your efforts as a reminder to stay on track.
What to do at the restaurant
Eat with dinner partners that are also monitoring calorie and fat intake. You will likely encourage each other to keep your healthy lifestyle commitment.
Remember calories from beverages count, too. Opt for water with lemon or unsweetened ice tea. If you consume alcohol avoid high calorie cocktails or limit yourself to one after you have had a full glass of water.
Refuse the bread as well as chips and salsa. If that sounds impossible, ask your server to bring only one piece of bread per person. If you order chips, go for salsa instead of cheese dip which has more calories.
Order from the appetizer menu or if you choose an entry ask for a to-go box and stash half of the portion before you start eating.
Share with your dinner companions. Divide meals and desserts so you aren’t tempted to eat every calorie in one sitting.
Order soup or salad before the entrée to help you feel full with fewer calories; don’t forget to ask for dressing on the side.
Eat mindfully; savor the first bites for the most satisfaction. You are likely to eat less.
Don’t inhale your food. Slow down and enjoy your companions. Of course we all enjoy a great meal but also place your focus on your friends and the experience of eating out.
Take a deep breath and recall your food goals. Remind yourself why they are important.
Get up before ordering dessert. Sometimes the interruption is enough to help you recognize that you are full. If you still decide to order, share. When you ask for two forks instead of one you share the calories and the fun of savoring a sweet treat.