Eating at a restaurant doesn’t have to sabotage your healthy lifestyle or weight loss goals. Remember, it is progress over perfection. It is a BALANCE, not all-or-nothing. This mindset alone will set you up for long-term success. And, unless you plan to never eat out again (…& that doesn’t sound fun!), it is BEST to incorporate dining out DURING your weight loss journey so that it is sustainable.
Need help? Use these smart-eating strategies to set yourself up for success!
If you know ahead of time that you’re going to a restaurant, scope out the menu & nutrition facts beforehand. Knowing menu items, terms, & cooking methods will make deciding what to order easier. Foods that are steamed, broiled, baked, or grilled are typically great options, while fried, breaded, smothered, & battered should be limited, especially if you are watching your total calories, saturated, & trans fats. If you have a say in the restaurant choice, avoid buffets… we tend to OVEReat just because it is “all you can eat.” Remember, the more you plan ahead, the more prepared you will be for ordering!
CONSIDER THE MENU
Just like you aim for a balanced plate at home, aim for a balanced meal when dining out. How? Choose foods from all the different food groups, including protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables, & grains. Don’t be afraid to “have it your way” & ask for a side of veggies or fruit in addition to your meal. Order healthy side dishes like a side salad with low-fat dressing, steamed veggies, baked potato, or fruit. Be cautious of the amounts of “extras” restaurants give you, including cheese, dressing, & croutons… sometimes restaurants OVER serve & you don’t need that much to feel satisfied. Great condiments include mustard, relish, low-fat dressings, olive oil & vinegar, salsa, & hummus… plus all the extra seasoned veggies!
PORTION CONTROL & MINDFUL EATING
Sometimes, restaurant portions can be HUGE. To help you, use the Plate Method to build better portions… think ½ your plate veggies, ¼ your plate lean protein, & ¼ your plate starch, either a starchy vegetable or grain. Anything else that doesn’t fit or if the portion is TOO LARGE, pack it up to take home for leftovers. Avoid drinking sugary beverages, & opt for water, low-fat milk, or unsweetened tea. Lastly, eat mindfully, meaning, listen to your body & eat when you are hungry. It takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that you are FULL, so eat slowly.
And remember, ONE MEAL is never going to “make or break” you… it is all about CONSISTENCY! The more you can build solid habits & routines, the more likely you’ll have a solid foundation to keep moving forward on!
So, SAVE THIS EMAIL for the next time you’re about to dine out & don’t want to completely derail from your health journey. And, make sure to SHARE THIS EMAIL with a friend that needs help too! Got questions about a specific restaurant or menu? Let me know by hitting REPLY!