We live in a country where food is served in abundance and portions are continuously ignored. This makes it extremely hard to make the right choices when dining out.

Below are seven simple strategies to help you make healthier choices while enjoying a meal out.

Snack before you go

Eat protein before you get to the restaurant.  Eating a small piece of protein or a protein bar before you go out will help you to not overeat and help you make healthier choices.  It’s hard to make healthy choices when your body is extremely hungry and protein will help to alleviate that feeling of hunger.  Ever have someone tell you to eat before going grocery shopping or you’ll end up buying more than you need?  This is basically the same idea.

Read the menu ahead of time

It’s always a great idea to familiarize yourself with the menu before you get there.  This way you have had plenty of time to look at the lower calorie options.  A lot of restaurants now offer skinny options, which would be a great way to lower the calories and portions in your meal.

Choose veggies over grains

Make sure to order a salad or two veggies with your entree.  Veggies have a lot of fiber, which helps you feel satiated.  When ordering, try to always pick the option with some type of protein and vegetables.

Ask for sauces to be served on the side

The goal of many restaurants is to make food taste great so you become a repeat customer and this usually involves adding a lot of creamy sauces or butter to it.  Always remember to ask for the sauce to be served on a separate container for you.  The food will still taste great with less sauce and this way you have control over the amount to serve yourself.

Drink water

Instead of drinking your calories, try eating them instead.  Always ask for water instead of high calorie drinks such as juice or alcohol.  Squeeze a small amount of lemon or lime to make your water taste better and more enjoyable.

The National Academies Press recently wrote an article recommending men ages 19 and older consume around 125 ounces a day (3.7 liters) of water, and for women about 91 ounces (2.7 liters).

https://www.nap.edu/read/10925/chapter/6

Depending on your diet, for example if you consume a high vegetable and fruit diet, about 25% of the water consumed comes from these foods.

Share dessert or skip it altogether

If you must have dessert, look at it as a sampler entree and share with your friends.  Otherwise, skip it and be thankful you don’t have to put in extra time at the gym!  Having coffee or tea with dessert will also help you feel satiated faster and prevent you from having too much of a bad thing.

Take it home

Tune in to your body and never eat to the point of feeling uncomfortable.  We all know that yucky feeling when we’ve overindulged.  Remember that feeling and do everything in your power to avoid it.  Food is meant to be enjoyable and if there are leftovers, which is usually the case, take it home and look forward to having it at another time.  The old saying that you should finish everything on your plate is no longer applicable when the portions have been super-sized.

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