Posted on November 9, 2017 at 8:00 AM by Iowa Weight Loss Specialists
With the lack of control over meal preparation, dining out can be nerve-wracking for individuals who are trying to make healthy food choices. Dining out should be an enjoyable experience and one in which you can feel good about your choices. Below are five tips to help you navigate through the dining out experience.
1. Plan ahead. Most restaurants have their menu and nutritional information online. Look through your options and pick out what you’re going to order beforehand. If there is no information online, keep in mind what a healthy meal looks like: protein (watch the added sauces and marinades), vegetables, and small amounts of fat, such as nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocado.
2. Don’t save calories. Does this sound familiar? Knowing that you have a birthday party or event that may lead to unhealthy food choices or increased intake, you may choose to decrease the amount of food you eat throughout the day in order to “save” those calories. While this may seem like a logical decision, it often backfires and leads to overeating. By the time your event occurs you’re starving due to restriction throughout the day and may feel a lack of control around food, affecting both your choices and the amount of food eaten. To better prepare, eat as you normally would throughout the day, focus on healthy meals consisting of protein, veggies and some fat. Make sure you aren’t overly hungry when the event rolls around.
3. Ask! Most restaurants can and will accommodate special requests such as grilling instead of frying, ordering without sauce or with it on the side, substituting vegetables in place of fries, etc. You can ask that bread not be brought to the table to prevent mindless eating while waiting for your main meal. Don’t be afraid to make special requests.
4. Practice portion control. To handle large portions served at restaurants it is beneficial to have a game plan. One option is to immediately ask for a box and package away half of your meal (Bonus: this provides you an easy meal for another day!); you can also split an entrée with someone; order off of the appetizer menu (making sure to avoid fried and high carbohydrate options); limit your meal to 20-30 minutes; and package up the remainder, which prevents you from continually picking at your food. However, it does not work well for fast eaters.
5. Don’t forget to breathe. You’re there to have a good time, focus on family and friends and the experience. If you happen to eat more than you intended or made some unhealthy choices, accept it and get back on track. There are no benefits to making yourself feel bad for food choices you’ve already made. Instead appreciate the fun time you had and focus on the healthy choices you’ll continue to make.