For anyone on a diet, a dinner invitation can cause some serious panic. Armed with too many menu options and tempting guilty pleasures, dining out can be one of the greatest tests for anyone trying to cut the calories.
Sticking to a diet doesn’t mean you need to be a social recluse or dread the weekly catch up with your mates. You can dine out successfully and enjoy your experience, simply by learning how to navigate any menu. Here are some tips that will help you eat smarter and stick to your diet goals while dining out.
- Get Snacking
Eating a light snack, or enjoying a protein bar before you go out, can help prevent you from overeating at the restaurant. It also can help you avoid your hungry tummy pushing you towards an unhealthy option.
Choose to snack on something that’s healthy and filling, but won’t ruin your appetite before leaving for the restaurant. This could be veggies, guacamole or a handful of berries. With a satisfied belly you are more likely to stick to your diet goals, and save a few pennies on expensive entrees!
- Know the Menu
Thanks to websites such as Menulog, you can now look at a restaurants menu before you arrive. If you are picking the restaurant, this gives you an opportunity to choose a venue with plenty of healthy options available. If someone else has chosen the restaurant, it gives you an opportunity to find the healthiest option on the list.
Choosing your meal option beforehand, allows you to stick to your decision and not to become tempted by other items on the menu. Allowing you to enjoy a meal out, without sacrificing your hard work.
- Personalise your Meal
Most restaurants are more than happy to offer off-menu replacements for their dishes. This allows you to take control of your meal and calorie intakes. Restaurants can also offer low-fat cooking alternatives, including baking, roasting or grilling.
Don’t be afraid to also ask the chef to hold the butter, skip the sauce, and bypass the oil. If there is a great meal option available but with an unhealthy side, simply ask your server to swap that part of the meal for extra vegetables or a salad.
- Ditch the Drinks
Alcohol and other sugary drinks are diet-killers and filled with empty calories. Since alcohol can contribute significant amounts of calories, limiting your intake to 150 calories’ worth is a good idea. This amounts to approximately two glasses of wine, two whiskeys, or one can of beer. For a more thorough overview of calorie intake from alcohol, click here.
Ordering wine by the glass rather than bottle is a great way to monitor your alcohol intake. Setting these personal limits will allow you to enjoy your drink without the guilt, as you stick to your diet goals.
- Monitor your Portions
Restaurants can be known to serve mountains of food to their guests. Monitoring your portions when eating out is therefore key to maintaining your healthy habits. If the portions sizes are large, you can consider sharing a meal with a friend, or asking for a doggie bag to take home for a later time.
Eating slowly and mindfully are great ways of ensuring that you eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Listen to your internal hunger signals, and stop when you have had enough.
- Keep the Good Stuff on the Side
Sauces and dressings can add a lot of extra fat and calories to a dish. For example, just two tablespoons of ranch salad dressing adds an extra 140 calories. Keeping dressings on the side and separate to your meal, makes it much easier to control the amount you eat.
With a little planning and commitment to your goals, you can enjoy restaurant dining while successfully adhering to your weight loss plan.
Bio: Laura Costello is in her final year of a Bachelor of Law/International Relations at Latrobe University. She is passionate about the law, the power of social media, and the ability to translate her knowledge of both common and complex topics to readers across a variety of mediums, in a way that is easy to understand.