Hello my friends!
Don’t you just love going out to eat? You don’t have to cook and someone waits on you! You also get to try new food items that you might be hesitant to try if you were to cook it yourself.
The only problem with eating out at restaurants is you don’t know all the ingredients or all the calories that are in menu items. I know some people don’t care when they go out to eat, but many of my female clients that I work with still want to be able to enjoy themselves while on a weight loss/healthy living program. I don’t count calories and don’t recommend it to my clients, but sometimes when you go to a restaurant it is nice to be able to see the calorie count on food items to help you pick a healthier food option. Here are my top tips to make healthier choices when eating out at restaurants:
- Choose a restaurant with a “lighter fare” menu. Most restaurants these days, especially chain restaurants, will have a menu that has options for 600 calories or less. You can look online before you even leave the house.
- Eat a salad before your main meal. Ask for your dressing on the side or opt for oil & vinegar and skip the cheese and croutons. If you’re not in the mood for a salad then get a broth-based soup or pick a main meal that is very veggie-heavy.
- Have a broth-based soup and salad as your main meal.
- Order a seafood or vegetable-based appetizer as your main meal, just stay away from the breaded or drenched in sauce variations.
- Ask your server for help. They can help you lighten up your meal or suggest a healthier option you might not have considered.
- Ask for extra veggies. Replace french fries or mashed potatoes with the vegetable of the day or ask if they have steamed broccoli.
- Choose lean cuts of meat like: skinless chicken breast, top sirloin, tip side steak or bottom round.
- Always ask for the butter & other sauces on the side. I do this even when we get Chinese take-out because Chinese food is always drenched in tons of sauce.
- Avoid empty calorie drinks like Pina Coladas, margaritas, & frozen Daquari. Choose a glass of champagne, red/white wine or vodka with a splash of club soda & lime.
- Look for key words like: grilled, broiled or baked. (again..ask for the butter or sauces to be left off or to be put on the side)
- Go Fish! Seafood is almost always a good choice. Make sure its not fried or breaded.
- Ask for fruit as a side or for dessert. Many restaurants have mixed fruit, but if they have berries ask for them instead.
- If you really don’t want to give up your favorite sauce, get it on the side & dip your fork in it first then into your food so you will still get the taste but not as many of the calories.
- If you really want a burger…ask for them to wrap it in lettuce which will save you calories from the big buns. I do this anytime I want to eat a burger and the crunch from the lettuce adds a nice touch!
- Immediately ask for a to-go box. Most restaurants serve portions that are triple or even quadruple the recommended portion size. Immediately, put half or 75% of your meal in a to-go box. 2 meals for the price of one!
- Eat your veggies first (or the lowest calorie part of your meal), this will help fill you up with the least amount of calories.
- Say no to the bread basket or chips & salsa. You can easily eat hundreds of extra calories before you even order your meal.
- Put your fork down in between bites. Eating too quickly is a good way to overeat. Putting your fork down between bites helps you eat slower and can give you a chance to add to the dinner conversation as well as gauge your hunger level before taking another bite.
- Drink water throughout your meal. Sometimes we think we are hungrier than we are, but in actuality we are just thirsty.
- If you are drinking alcohol, make sure you drink a glass of water in between each libation.
- If you know that you are going out to dinner ahead of time, you can eat a large meal earlier in the day instead of arriving at the restaurant “hangry” and wanting to order one of everything on the menu. If you skip meals all day because you know you are going out to dinner this will lead to high-calorie choices.
- Give yourself a pep-talk before going out. Reach out to a friend, your trainer, or a healthy influence in your life to help you get in the right mindset to make healthy dinner choices.
- Skip the dessert. I know..that decadent chocolate cake looks so delicious, but one piece of that rich chocolate cake can take on 400 calories or more (hello Cheesecake Factory!)
So, do you make healthy choices when going out to eat or do you not worry about it? Do you have healthy eating-out tips? Do share!
Stay Healthy (and still enjoy yourself) my Friends!
Carrie A Groff