If you read last week’s blog, you probably did the same math I did….and probably thinking like Scoobie Doo, “Ruh-roh!” But, all is not lost and you CAN eat out successfully. Like any successful goah achievement, however, you have to plan.
When you know you’re going to eat out, consider better food choices you can make that day. You might plan a lighter lunch if you’ll eat out at dinner. Try not to skip meals because low blood sugar might encourage overindulging later. Most importantly, don’t show up at the restaurant starving. If you really want to splurge on a higher calorie entrée, by all means, skip dessert. Commit to sticking to your plan once you’re in the restaurant. And try to avoid all-you-can-eat buffets. Those are very difficult to combat mentally when the “value” proposition teases us into thinking we need to eat more. Because buffets really test my control, I just avoid them.
Your Attack Plan
If eating out, you might try some of the strategies below:
- Don’t forget “portion distortion”! We have been brainwashed into thinking portions should be larger–and food often comes in multi-serving sizes. So order regular portion sizes instead of the jumbo or super sizes that are so common. Ask for a smaller size.
- Try an appetizer, half an entrée, or share a meal with a friend and order an extra side salad. This is also a money saver!
- Ask if you can make healthy substitutions, for instance, a baked potato instead of fries, or a salad or fresh fruit instead of coleslaw. Ordering ala carte is a good idea also—and always ask what healthy substitutions are available. Most restaurants want you to come back.
- Ask for half your entrée to be wrapped up to go before the food is brought to the table.
- Learn to spot which dishes are made with lower calorie cooking methods.
- Ask how dishes are prepared and if they can do it your way by either grilling the chicken or steaming the vegetables.
- Always request that sauces and dressings be provided on the side.
- Don’t tempt yourself! Have the waiter remove the bowl of chips or peanuts, or the basket of bread. (Personally, I can’t sit in front of a bowl of chips and not eat them.) Calories from mindless nibbling can add up before you know it.
- Don’t sit near the dessert cart!
- Limit or eliminate alcohol. Alcohol is high calorie. It contains few nutrients and weakens your will power.
You can do it! Be strong & plan ahead.
Till next time, LIVE fit. Be happy.
A recent study of our US dining habits by the American Cancer Society took a look at 12k adults over a 7 year period. According to the study, we eat out an average of 2X a week, taking in an extra 200 calories…and the quality of those calories is more saturate fat, sugar and sodium.
Their lead researcher Binh Nguyen, PhD, said “If you eat out 2 days per week and do not exercise or reduce intake during the day, the additional caloric intake is about 20,000 calories per year, the equivalent of about 6 pounds annually.”
Yikes. Ok, I am an analyst by day, so I immediately started doing more scenarios…what if we eat out 3X a week, or 5X a week, or more..? You get the picture. Scary huh? Couple that with significantly more sedentary lifestyles (sitting is the new “smoking”) and it’s no wonder we have the health challenges we do.
Now, you can eat out and still eat healthy, but it will take a little planning in advance. Try these simple strategies:
|Before you head out, look up the restaurant’s menu online. Most have calorie counts for better decision making. Just remember, many calorie totals exclude salad dressings and other toppings.|
|If you can’t get calorie counts, keep an eye out for lower fat options like clear, broth-based soups or spinach salads with the dressing on the side. With entrees, go for grilled, broiled, or steamed vs. fried. You can always ask your waiter for healthier options and most restaurants will work with you on adjustments. (high maintenance ordering as my kids like to tease!)|
|Remember portion distortion. Most entrees will serve 2-3 people! Split your meal AND save a buck. This works even better with desserts…if you must indulge in the chocolate cake (Lisa), get a spoon for everyone at the table!
Be fit, live well, laugh often.