I love going out to eat. There’s just something so relaxing about sitting back and letting someone else do all the work. It also gives me a reason to get dressed up after wearing athletic clothes all week (not that I’m complaining at all), it’s social, I can try new foods, and it’s a fun way to explore new cities.
The problem with going out to eat? Weight gain. Setbacks. Overeating. Increased health risks. Combine frequent take-out weeknights, work dinners, happy hours, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce these risks.
Follow these five simple rules and you can enjoy an occasional meal out without guilt!
1. Plan ahead
Most restaurant’s menus are available online (some are even available on My Fitness Pal), which makes it easy to choose what you want to order in advance. Look for dishes with grilled or baked lean protein (fish, chicken, turkey, etc.) and order a side salad or veggies. By spending a couple of minutes before you arrive to decide, you won’t be as tempted to order the biggest, greasiest dish on the menu- like everyone else will.
2. Order first.
By placing your order first, you eliminate any pressure to change your mind. You are also setting a good standard for what the rest of the table orders and might just influence someone else to make a healthier decision. Go you!
3. Send the bread back.
Save your appetite for the good stuff! How many times have you “filled up on bread” long before your waiter even takes your order? By removing it off the table you eliminate that temptation all together. Out of sight, out of mind.
4. Limit alcohol and desserts.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of wine or dessert, but it’s easy for one glass to turn into four. Drink water before your entree is brought out and order a glass (read: not bottle) of wine to have with dinner. If you are treating yourself to dessert, share with the table and let them decide what to order! I usually let my husband pick the dessert, try a few bites and be done. I know that if I let myself choose the dessert, I’ll finish that whole piece of tiramisu on my own!
5. Take leftovers home.
America’s restaurant portions are 2-3X the suggested serving size. We couldn’t believe how much less we were served at restaurants in Australia. It was a huge eye-opener to how big portions are here! A “regular” coffee in Australia is 8 ounces, whereas the smallest size at Starbucks in the U.S. is 12 ounces! (Starbucks does offer an 8 oz. size called a “short” – it’s just not displayed on their menu.) When huge portions are set in front of you, it’s easy to eat that whole plate in one sitting. Go for quality… not quantity. Request for half the meal to be boxed BEFORE the food arrives at the table, or split an entree with a friend. You won’t overindulge and you’ll have leftovers for tomorrow. Win win!
What are your biggest struggles when it comes to going out to eat and how do you overcome them?