Many individuals feel that dining out should not occur while trying to watch one’s diet. This is not the case! Although it may be a little challenging at first, once you know how to select good food choices, you will be amazed by the variety of “healthier” options that can be found at many restaurants and fast food establishments.
There are several ways to “prep” for a meal out. Plan and preview restaurant menu items and nutrition content to decide which restaurant best fits your dietary lifestyle.
Choose restaurants that offer freshly cooked meals, this will help eliminate unhealthy additives from manufactured foods. Pre-select your meal from home so you don’t have to look at the menu and thus are not tempted by other menu items once at the restaurant. Before leaving home, curb your appetite by consuming a healthy snack, such as a handful of raw mixed nuts, a salad, or a vegetable & juice smoothie. This can help ensure that you don’t overeat or binge once arriving at the restaurant.
Portion sizes are important to keep track of while eating out. Now, that doesn’t mean methodically measuring each morsel of food you consume. But, be mindful of what and how much you are consuming. When ordering, opt for a la carte items instead of buffets, and combo/super-sized meals. Also, pay close attention to how food items are prepared and presented. Choose foods that are baked, broiled, roasted, steamed, poached, or grilled, instead of fried, pan-fried, creamy, au gratin, or breaded. Ask for dressings and sauces on the side, so you control how much to use. Choose lean white meat or fish over dark or red meat. Stick with drinking water during meals. Juices, soda, and alcohol add nothing but empty calories and sugar. Wrap up your meal by giving in to your sweet tooth and choose fresh fruit, sorbets, or frozen yogurt for dessert. Again, be mindful of portion sizes and if possible share your dessert.
Rely on your body’s cues to prevent overeating. Eat when beginning to feel hungry and stop when beginning to feel full. Take the time to enjoy the experience of dining out and chew your food slowly. Part of your dining experience involves a social interaction with others which you want to allow yourself the time to participate in. Whether we dine out due to necessity and convenience or to socially interact, know that there are options out there.
You don’t need to alienate yourself from enjoying a night out on the town!