Have a plan. Work the restaurant meal into your overall eating plan for the week. If you are celebrating a special occasion, you may decide to make that meal your “Fling”. If you are eating out to take a break from cooking or for business, you will want to plan a meal that fits with your Eating Plan guidelines.
Watch the company you keep. If you happen to be dining with a friend or colleague who has bad eating habits or tends to tempt you with fattening appetizers, drinks and dessert – BE PREPARED! Warn them ahead of time what you plan to eat and if they can’t support you – maybe you be better off with a different dining partner. You are learning to look at food as fuel and not entertainment….
Eat something 2-3 hours before your restaurant meal. Don’t starve yourself to save up for a restaurant meal. If you do, you are likely to be too hungry, be tempted by the wrong choices (you tend to crave fat when you’re overly hungry), eat quickly, and enjoy your food less. Remember many small meals are the key to boosting your metabolism!
Avoid restaurants that encourage high fat choices. Patronize restaurants offering a variety of good-tasting, low-fat items. Select a restaurant that you know. It’s easier to plan ahead if you know what to expect - such as typical portion size and any “extras” that are included. If you are not familiar with a restaurant, call ahead or go online to find out about the methods of food preparation and menu items.
Stay away from Buffets and All-You-Can Eat Specials: Buffets offer too much of a variety of tastes that make you able to eat more than you would normally. Don’t put yourself through the turmoil of having to restrain yourself. Select a restaurant where you can order from a menu.
Is it possible to eat healthy at a fast food restaurant? The best advice is to check out the nutritional information on-line to see what your best options are if you have to resort to fast food. Pay particular attention to the salt and fat content as well as the ingredients.
When You Arrive
Request a glass of water upon being seated. Sip water instead of nibbling on bread or having a cocktail. Keep your glass full throughout the meal.
Don’t drink your calories: Our body doesn’t feel full on liquid calories. If you are going to consume calories, choose solid food that will fill you up!
When You Order
Be the first to order. Ordering first, whether for the main course or dessert, will prevent you from being swayed by others. If you know exactly what you want, then just skip the menu. Avoid appetizers.
Don’t be shy: Let your requests be known – most restaurants are glad to cater to your needs. You can ask for a certain preparation method, extras on the side or skip sides and extras altogether to resist temptation.
Order the right portion size: A meal can be shared with a friend. Ordering an appetizer instead of a full entrée can also help decrease portion size. If an order is available in a smaller size – order it that way to avoid the temptation of eating more than you should at a meal.
Order foods prepared in a healthy manner: Select simmered, steamed, broiled, roasted, stir fried (in little oil), grilled or baked. These preparation methods usually involve very little added fat. Anything fired, sautéed, or creamy is likely high in fat and calories. Always elect poultry to be prepared the following ways: steamed; poached; roasted; broiled; boiled; grilled; or baked. As for beef be sure you choose lean cuts like loin, filet or flank. Don’t over-indulge with fats or foods made prepared with cheese or cream sauces; butter; oil; au gratin; breaded; Alfredo; battered or batter-dipped and gravy.
Ask for the dressings and sauces on the side.
Avoid menu items that have added cheese. Ask for the item without cheese.
Boost the vegetables: Always ask for extra vegetables. Vegetables can fill you up with less fat and calories.
When Your Food Arrives
Portion your Food. When your food arrives - view the portion sizes and decide how much (based on your Eating Plan and calories) you should eat. Ask for a container to store the remaining food for lunch or dinner the next day. These will alleviate the danger of overeating or satisfy the need to clean your plate.
Eat slowly and stop when you are satisfied. Eat slowly to fully enjoy your meal. It takes a while for your brain to register that you are full.
Remember: Picking Counts! A bite here and there of someone else’s fries or dessert is day off of your plan. When you are changing your eating habits – it is important to be consistent. Your body is not sure whether to take you seriously or not. Daily small cheats are enough to throw off your weight loss goals for the week.
Enjoy the experience. Be sure to focus on the many non-food aspects of the restaurant experience, such as the company of others, being waited on and the lack of preparation or clean–up involved.
Drink water after finishing your meal. After you have finished eating drink a full glass of water to aid digestion and cap off your meal.