No matter how much you try to cook and eat at home, you’ll eventually find yourself at a restaurant — and that’s a good thing. Really. From celebration meals to nights when you just don’t feel like cooking, everyone needs a meal out every once in a while. The most successful dieters are the ones who turn their healthy eating into a lifestyle that follows them into restaurants, parties, and more. So, how can you keep from derailing your weight loss efforts when the bread roll basket is being passed around? Here are 7 ideas to help you stay on track:
1. Reach for the Water
Regular water intake is already amazing for your health, but drinking water before a meal can help fill you up and keep you from overeating. Plus, sometimes, we think we’re hungrier than we are, simply because we’re really just thirsty. Go ahead and give your body the water that it’s craving. The scale will thank you.
2. Really Look at the Menu
The restaurant’s menu can clue you into its weightloss friendly fare. Does the menu have any nutritional facts listed, such as calories? Does the meal description say anything about food preparation, such as baked vegetables versus deep fried? Can you order fruit or vegetables in place of commonplace food items like fries or chips?
If it’s a gathering that you’re attending, try to check out the restaurant’s website beforehand and take a look at the menu. This way, you can thoroughly read through the choices and already have in mind your chosen meal without having to worry about being tempted by others or guilted into picking a meal that doesn’t align with your weight loss plans.
3. Eat Some and Save Some
Portion control is a huge problem at restaurants. It always seems like the spaghetti is always the size of your plate or the salmon is the size of both hands. Knowing portion control, firstly, is essential. For instance, since a portion of meat should be about the size of just one of your palms, go ahead and split that fish in half and save the rest for tomorrow’s lunch break.
These portion-controlled meal plates can help you figure out how to divvy up your food and give you a mental image of how your meal should look no matter where it’s taking place. Overwhelmed by the amount of food at a restaurant? Feel free to ask if the food can be wrapped up to go for a tasty leftover meal.
4. Use a Food Journal or Weight Loss App
If you’re regularly writing down or charting your daily caloric and nutritional intake, then it’s much easier to see when you have room to splurge and when you need to slow it down. If you know that you’re going to a particularly tempting restaurant at the end of the day, spend the day filling up on healthy choices like plenty of vegetables and light fruits, like berries.
You’ll eat less at dinner, but still, be able to enjoy an evening treat.
Everyone needs a splurge every now and then, so don’t deny yourself a favorite restaurant meal if it’s been weeks since you had one. Just be sure to eat well most of the time.
That being said, do allow yourself to eat those healthy foods throughout the day, as opposed to fasting for hours in the time leading up to your restaurant outing. The truth is, you are far more likely to overeat at the restaurant if you haven’t eaten all day.
Keep in mind that some apps, like MyFitnessPal, will even tell you the best choices at a chosen restaurant or offer online guides to the best meal options for your weight loss efforts.
Best yet, write down your calories in a journal such as a monthly Compass Book. Studies show that writing things down by hand improves the impact it has on your memory and mindset.
5. Ask for Sauces on the Side
A salad can quickly become a healthy choice gone wrong when the dressing is piled on high. Ask for the dressing on the side, so that you can control the portions. If you order any kind of sauce or gravy with your meal, ask for that on the side, as well. It’s okay to splurge every once in awhile on a delicious sauce, but having it on the side lets you decide just how far you want to take it. You might surprise yourself by finding that you really didn’t even want as much as the restaurant served you.
6. Enjoy Your Meal (Really!)
Really taking the time to enjoy your food will make your restaurant experience a satisfying one. Eat slowly and take note of the tastes and textures that make dining such a wonderful experience. Eating mindfully and slowly has been shown over and over again to help with weight loss, as slower eating lets you more easily take notice of your fullness cues.
7. Move More to Burn More
After the restaurant outing, consider a relaxing stroll. Research from the weight has shown that just a 15-minute walk after the evening meal can reduce the blood sugar spikes that can lead to weight gain, as well as boost heart health.
Looking for more support? Join Compass Club - the club that helps you shift your way toward happiness one month at a time - best yet, it comes with Compass Book! A monthly planner/workbook where can track your calories and exercise, that is also packed with motivational articles & fun activities. Learn more here.