So you have been eating super clean all week long, and you feel great. Then, your friend asks you to go out with them to your favorite restaurant…you know, the one with the free bread as an appetizer and huge portion sizes. You want to go, but you want to keep your clean eating habits going, and are worried that you can’t do that at a restaurant. Have no fear! It IS possible to stay on track when you go out to eat! Eating out does not always mean that you have to ingest 2,000 calories in one sitting, or that after you eat dinner, you have to start your clean eating journey over…again. Nowadays, most restaurants are good about having healthy options. Even fast food places have healthier and low calorie options. Going out should not be stressful. You should enjoy going out occasionally, just continue to be aware of what and how much you are taking into your body. Follow these tips to stay on track while eating out.
1. Cut your entree in half before you start eating: Portion sizes are humongous these days! Many main dishes have crazy amounts of calories in them. Right when your food comes, cut it in half. If you eat half of your food, you eat half of the calories! You can also tell them to cut your meal in half and put it in a to go box before it even comes to your table. Then you will not be tempted to nibble on the other half.
2. Ask for dressings and sauces on the side: Sauces and dressings add tons of calories to your meal, and most restaurants do not go “light” when it comes to putting sauces and dressings on food. You will use significantly less if you put it on yourself. When you get a salad, try using the fork method with your dressing. Dip your fork in the dressing and then take a bite of the salad. I feel like it is the perfect amount of dressing when you do it this way, and you will be surprised how much less dressing you use. You can do the same thing with sauces.
3. Look at the menu before you leave the house and decide what you would like to get: Most restaurants have nutrition facts on their websites. Look over the menu and nutrition facts, and decide beforehand what you would like to get. Then, you will know what you are going to get, and will be less tempted by the other foods.
4. Choose a restaurant that offers lower calorie options: Most restaurants have lower calorie sections on their menus. Try ordering from that section…You may be surprised at how good they are! I went to Olive Garden the other night and ordered their salmon off of the lighter fare menu. It was really good! And I was very satisfied when I was done.
5. Try not to drink soda or other beverages with added sugar- choose water: Fancy drinks and sodas often have many hidden calories in them. Calories in liquid form add up quick. It is super easy to down a couple of sodas before your entree even gets on the table! An average can of soda has about 150 calories in it. So, if you drink 3 glasses of soda, that is almost 500 calories (depending on the size of your glass) added to your meal! Water is the healthier option and will truly quench your thirst. Start sipping on your water right when it comes. Sometimes we feel like we are hungry, but we are really just thirsty, so make sure you are quenching your thirst!
6. Choose entrees that are baked, broiled, or grilled, instead of those that are sauteed or fried: Frying foods add tons of calories and fat to your meal. A meal that is baked, broiled or grilled will have significantly less fat and calories and will not leave you feeling yucky after you eat it.
7. Eat a salad loaded with veggies as an appetizer: Fill up on the good stuff! If you can order a green salad as an appetizer, you will not be as hungry when your dinner comes, and will be less likely to overeat. A salad that is filled with veggies has lots of fiber to help you feel full and is low in calories. Remember to get your dressing on the side!
8. Skip or limit the amount of “freebie” appetizers that you have: Yes I am talking about the rolls, bread and chips that come before the meal! Dang it haha Usually, these freebie foods are loaded with calories and fat. If you do not want to skip them completely, just be aware of how much of it you are eating. It is easy to think of these as free foods, because they are not really part of your meal. And besides, your meal will taste lots better if you save some room for it!
9. Ask for more veggies: You can add veggies to just about any meal- pastas, salads, soups, hamburgers, chicken dishes, etc. Vegetables take up volume, so if you eat the same amount of the meal as you would have, but with added veggies, you will take in less calories. Adding vegetables to your meal will also increase your nutrient intake.
10. Tell them how you want your meal prepared: You can talk to your waiter/waitress and tell them how you want your food prepared. You can ask them to not prepare your meal with butter, cream sauces, or oil.
11. Share! For me, this one works for me the best! Share with a friend or your spouse. You will feel a lot less full, and feel way better afterwards!
12. Ask for a lunch sized portion, get the smaller portion size, or have an appetizer for your main meal: The smaller the portion, the less calories you will take in! Some restaurants have smaller portions available- you just have to ask.
13. Add little or no butter to your food: Try not to add extra fat and calories when going out. Dip your bread in a little balsamic vinegar instead of oil or butter.
14. Listen to your body: The best way to stay in control and stay on track is to listen to your body! Stop when you feel satisfied. You will thank yourself a little later!
15. Skip the dessert! Desserts at restaurants have crazy amounts of calories…like almost as much as your meal haha If you need a dessert, try going somewhere else for frozen yogurt topped with berries, or have some fruit when you get home. If you wait, the craving will most likely pass anyway:) Another way to cut calories if you want to go out for dessert, is to eat a lighter meal at home, then go out and share dessert.
Share your tips and tricks when going out with us! What works for you??
Have an awesome day!