We all know that eating out can be the hardest thing to do when you are really trying to focus on weight loss. Some are so scared to even walk into a restaurant while “dieting” because they don’t trust themselves or the restaurant. But is that true life? Can you possibly avoid restaurants and eating out forever? Absolutely not! Eating out with family and friends is the best part of life! Eating is very enjoyable, but you don’t have to allow that to spoil all of the hard work you have put in to lose the weight. You just have to plan a little bit. Here are some steps to eating out at restaurants and still keep that weight off!
If you know you are eating out that night, maybe skip one snack to save 200 calories. No, this does not mean to starve all day and save all of your calories for dinner. This will put your body into starvation mode and then when you do eat, it will all just be stored for later. Keep eating small meals throughout the day but maybe eat breakfast a little later, skip that mid-morning snack, have a light lunch like a chicken salad, and then have your afternoon snack a little bit later like around 4pm. Having that afternoon snack is very important to help you not walk into the restaurant ravenous. I like to make a protein shake around 4pm. This is so filling and I know it will keep me from grabbing the roll or chips at dinner.
The second thing to do is go online and look up the restaurant you are going to. Find their healthy options and decide what you are going to eat ahead of time so you don’t even have to look at all of the other options.
Decide before you go that you will be sticking to your healthy eating plan. If the restaurant you are going to doesn’t have anything online then ask for their healthy options menu when you get there. A lot of restaurants are having these available to look at. If it is a big chain restaurant, they will list their calories and fat right on the menu. You will want to look for their 500 calorie or less section and make your decision from there.
Next, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Get in the habit of asking your server how things are prepared. Asking things like, “does it have butter on it?”; “Is it prepared in a lot of oil?”; “Can you put the sauce on the side?” If you ask nicely, most restaurants are happy to make it how you want it.
If you are the person that doesn’t want to look and sound like you are really picky or on a diet, order your entree and then excuse yourself to the restroom. Go directly to find your waiter and ask him for no butter, the dressing on the side and extra vegetables in place of the white rice that comes with the entree. This way no one will know that you are ordering this way and you end up with a very healthy meal that will taste just as good and won’t add extra inches on your waistline!
The last thing you want to watch is the alcohol and desert. Both are high in calories and high in sugar. If you are trying to be “healthy” or “good” on the night you are eating out, and it isn’t considered your “cheat night”, then you may want to skip the alcohol and dessert all together. Or, just take a bite of your spouse’s and call it a day.
Now, if you want to be social and have a glass of wine with everyone, you will definitely want to cut out that rice or starchy carbohydrate. Alcohol is sugar and if you are taking in too much of it at one sitting, it will store as fat. So order your lean piece of red meat or a grilled piece of fish, ask for no rice and extra vegetables and then have your glass of wine. But stick with one or the calories will add up fast. The same goes for the dessert. If you want to have dessert, then cut out that rice as well and it won’t put you too far over your calories.
Don’t be afraid of eating out. Every time you go to eat out and order something healthy, write it down and remember it. This will help you to feel more confident about the process and that you are capable of making good choices. If you are one that eats out a lot then you will have to get a different mindset about it. If you have three nights a week of eating out, you will need to choose ahead of time which night will be your “cheat night” and then the rest of the week you are making good choices. Leading a healthy lifestyle- eating good at least 80% of the time and eating unhealthy foods and snacks under 20% of the time–will allow you to still enjoy life while staying healthy and fit.
Jessica Janc, Director of Nutrition, Premier Fitness Camp
Jessica Janc has been a part of the Fitness Industry for 20 years. She attended the University of Utah where she studied Exercise Sports Science with an emphasis on Nutrition. She has been an ACE certified Aerobic Instructor and Personal trainer for nineteen years. She studied under the Stott Pilates Method, is Bosu Certified, Madd Dogg Spin certified and teaches many other fitness classes at Purefitness Sports Center in Carlsbad. Jessica is Ace Certified in Lifestyle and Weight Management and is a Sports Nutritionist certified through the National Association of Sports Nutrition (NASN).