There’s a common misconception that you can never eat out at a restaurant when you are trying to lose weight or maintain your weight loss. But it doesn’t have to be that way! A fun part of life is enjoying restaurants and meals out with family or friends. An evening out doesn’t have to ruin your diet; there are plenty of ways that you can stick to a healthy diet while eating out at a restaurant.
- Check out the menu. A lot of restaurants are responding to requests for healthier meals. It’s not uncommon to find a section of the menu that lists healthier or lighter options. If your menu has those options listed, use them! It’s a great place to start if you’re looking for lighter fare.
- Ask for the substitution. Don’t hesitate to ask for a salad instead of fries, or fruit instead of toast. Sometimes you may need to pay a little extra for the healthier option, but it’s worth making the switch.
- Dressing on the side. Ask to get dressings and sauces on the side. This way, you can control how much you use. Chances are that you’ll use far less than the restaurant puts on the sandwich or salad for you.
- Know the lingo. A chicken salad may sound healthy, but if the menu says that it’s “crispy” chicken, chances are that it will have been fried. “Battered,” “creamy” and “glazed” are other words that signal that the item may not be a good choice.
- Pick an appetizer. Appetizers generally have smaller portions. Instead of ordering an entrée, opt for an appetizer, which may have a more appropriate portion size. You can always add on a small or side salad if you’re afraid that you will still be hungry.
- Go for the soup and salad. Pick a veggie-based soup (skip the cream of broccoli or cheesy potato soups) and a side salad for a great meal that’s low in calories and high in fiber.
- Skip the bread or chips. Dining at one of those places that gives you a breadbasket or bowl of chips before you order? Ask to skip it. You’ll only fill up on carb and calorie-heavy foods before you even eat your meal. If you’re with someone who prefers to not skip the basket, have them keep the basket closer to their side of the table, out of arm’s reach from you.
- Check out the menu online. Whenever possible, check out the menu online and pick out a few healthy options that you are excited about eating. Sitting down hungry and distracted by conversation is not the best time to start looking for a healthy meal.
- Have a salad. When possible, order a salad before your meal. The extra veggies help to keep you full so that you’ll eat less of your entrée.
- Skip the high calorie drinks. It’s tempting to order a margarita or cocktail from a restaurant, but they are usually packed with calories. If you really want that drink, try a spirit with seltzer or club soda instead.
Eating out is a part of life, and so learning how to make healthy choices at a restaurant is an important skill to have. With a little planning, eating out can be just as enjoyable and delicious as it was before you made the commitment to lose weight.