How to Stay on Track when Eating Out

It's Friday, and that means many of us will  most likely be dining out at some point over the weekend.  I think most people fall into 3 different categories when it comes to going out to eat. Some people use the weekends to indulge and end up having to dig themselves out of a hole on Mondays. The Second group has been doing such a great job sticking to their meal plan/diet at home and are afraid of ruining the progress they've made by going out to eat. They have restaurant phobia and don't want to be tempted by the cheesy fries on the menu.  The last group  puts on their stretchy pants and doesn't give a D_ MN what they put in their mouths.  Do any of those sound familiar?
Fortunately, more and more restaurants are jumping on board and creating menu options for the health conscious patron. It's getting easier and easier to stick with your healthy lifestyle and continue making progress. Just watch your portion sizes and practice the following15  tips. You CAN eat out  AND feel good about it at the same time.
1. Read the menu before you go.

If you’re not familiar with the menu, read it beforehand. You can check out the menu online at most restaurants before you even arrive. If they have grilled fish, a filet, or an appealing salad, you can go out to eat with confidence. You’ll also  be more social at the table since you already have a good idea what you'll be ordering.

2. Don’t arrive hungry.

If you sit down at the table famished, your chances of overeating increase significantly.  Eating a small  high protein snack like Greek yogurt, hummus, a few slices of apple with peanut butter or a hard boiled egg ahead of time will help take the edge off your hunger and prevent you from reaching for the breadbasket.

3. Send back the bread basket

Speaking of the breadbasket, just send it back. In the moment, this is a tough decision to make, but warm bread before dinner is a temptation you don’t need while you’re hungry. (this is why it's good to eat a small snack before you go out)

 4. Be a trendsetter.

If your friend orders French fries, you're more likely to do the same. But, the opposite approach works, too:

If the first person orders something healthy, you'll be surprised at how many people follow suit. So raise your hand, order first and choose the healthiest thing on the menu.

5.Order Wisely and Ask Questions

The way food is prepared greatly influences calorie content. If the menu is not clear, ask your server how the dish is prepared and request a different method of cooking. Look for Grilled, Broiled, Steamed and Baked Options. Avoid things that say fried, smothered, sauteed,etc. Most servers are used to these sorts of questions and are happy to help.

6.Skip the first drink.

Order a glass of club soda or sparkling water instead of having a drink. It's an easy way to cut down on the alcohol and the extra calories for the evening.

 7.Order a veggie side dish instead of an appetizer.

If there isn't a soup or salad that's fairly clean and simple, check out the vegetable side options. Look for something like grilled asparagus,  broccoli rabe or green beans.

8.Split an entree with a friend or order a protein appetizer as your entree.

Today's portions tend to be huge at restaurants! I often look for a healthy appetizer ( my go to is steamed mussels) as my entree or split the entree with my hubby. He loves to eat healthy too which makes ordering easy.

9.Enjoy your company.

Going out to eat isn’t just about food—you’re there to connect with friends/significant others etc.. Paying attention to the people you’re eating with will help you eat slower. Not only will you strengthen  your relationships, you’ll also enjoy the experience more and your body will thank you too.

10.Just say no to the buffet.

The buffet screams stretchy pants!!! seriously, look around at the clientelle the next time you happen to be at one. If you go to the buffet, you plan to get your money's worth which means eating endless plates of starchy food that will send you into a post meal coma. Most of us have difficulty estimating portions sizes to begin with, but the allure of eating as much as you want  without having to pay more drives many people to eat quickly (the brain can't catch up with your stomach to tell you it's full) and overeat at that.  If you do end up at a buffet, eat a large salad first, and then use a smaller plate for the rest of your meal. If you must, have one dessert instead of six.Ideally, stay away all together.

11. Avoid soft drinks and lemonade.

Every restaurant offers water, so always start with that. I usually ask for lemon or lime to give it a little flavor.  Soft Drinks and lemonade are loaded with sugar—the exact type of calories you want to avoid. If you must drink something other than water,  ask for unsweetened  iced tea.

12. Ask for your dressings on the side.

Alot of people think they are doing great to order a salad, but miss the fact that the ranch or blue cheese dressing that is covering it usually has as many calories as a burger and fries. Don't negate the benefits of eating your greens by covering it with a heavy dressing.  Order it on the side so you can have a better idea of how much you’re eating, or better yet, request olive oil and balsamic vinegar so you can control the ratio and amount of each ingredient yourself.

13.Order off-menu.

Many chefs are happy to adjust a recipe to meet your needs; you just need to ask.  Most meat, chicken, fish, and veggies can be grilled or steamed, which are much  healthier  and lower-calorie methods of cooking.

14.Start with a soup or salad.

Beginning with a soup or salad can help reduce the amount of total calories you’ll eat during your meal by filling you up with liquid/roughage. Just make sure it’s a cup of soup, not a bowl, and preferably not full of noodles or cream.  Instead, opt for broth-based soups that are clear.

15. Practice the 80/20 Rule

One meal never ruined anyone’s ability to lose weight. Even if a cheat meal slips through the cracks, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, to make eating clean part of a healthy lifestyle that you can do FOREVER, you must give yourself permission to enjoy the occasional splurge.  That means, eat clean 80% of the time, and enjoy your favorite comfort foods the other 20%. Enjoy your cheat meals in moderation and you really can have your cake and eat it too.


Do you have a tip that keeps you on track? I'd love to hear about it! Please share below. Here's to helping you love the body you live in!!

Stay Fit!

Ruth xoxo


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