Eating out is considered taboo when it comes to weight loss. Many people are under the impression that all fast food and restaurant food is unhealthy and high in calories. While this may have been the case several years ago, there are numerous healthy food options available on the market today.
Most restaurants offer up healthy foods such as salads, lettuce wraps, and chicken bowls, but that doesn’t mean you have to restrict your food choices to healthy restaurants. You can make healthy choices at most any restaurant regardless of food type – all it takes is a bit of planning and preparation ahead of time.
In this piece, we’ll dive into how you can eat while on your weight loss journey.
Review the Menu
Nearly all restaurants post their menu on their website nowadays. If you’ve never been to a specific restaurant before, take a few minutes to review their menu prior to going to eat. You’ll relieve some of the pressure of having to make a last minute decision that could jeopardize your diet progress.
Many places also now place calorie and nutritional information on their websites and menus. Oftentimes you’ll know exactly how many calories and protein are in every single item. You can even record your meal into MyFitnessPal or another fitness nutrition calculator ahead of time so you don’t even have to worry.
Don’t Go to the Restaurant Hungry
Sometimes people make the mistake of not eating all day in anticipation of going to a restaurant for dinner. Although logically it makes sense to save calories for a larger meal, it might not be the most optimal choice for sticking to your diet. Fasting can be a recipe for disaster as you’ll be more prone to making unhealthy food choices such as excessive appetizers, sides, desserts, and more.
Instead, focus on eating healthier meals throughout the day beforehand. If you know that your dinner is likely to be heavier in carbs and fats, focus on consuming high protein foods. For example, let’s say you want to save 1000 calories for dinner. Here’s some meals you can eat for breakfast and lunch:
If you follow a plan similar to the one above, you’ll still likely have lots of calories and carbohydrates left in your daily dietary intake to save for dinner. However, this doesn’t mean go crazy. Still try to stick to whole foods, lean proteins, veggies, and low calorie beverages. Moderation is the key when it comes to dieting.
Modify Your Order
Just because an item appears on the menu a certain way, that doesn’t mean you have to order it exactly as it comes. Most restaurants are willing to offer substitutions to how an item is prepared or what sides it comes with. Let’s say you see a burger with fries on the menu. You can ask for the burger to be cooked without oil and substitute salad for the fries. If you want to save additional calories, opt for a lettuce wrap instead of a bun.
Here’s some additional tips you can follow:
- Ask for items to be baked or cooked without oil instead of fried
- Substitute high carb items such as fries, chips, and potatoes for veggies and salads
- Choose low or zero calorie beverages
- Limit appetizers such as breads and chips and salsa
- Take only a couple bites of dessert instead of eating the whole thing
- If you drink alcohol, limit yourself and try to choose options without sugary mixers
Modifying your order doesn’t have to be difficult. Most servers and restaurants will willingly alter your meal to make it healthier.
Skip the Appetizers
How many times are we given bread or chips prior to having our meal? Maybe we order mozzarella sticks or onion rings to snack on. Having appetizers before your meal can add several hundred calories to your daily intake. Restaurants often have extravagant appetizer platters that contain chicken wings, fried potatoes, french fries and more.
Try to avoid piling up the appetizers. Instead, wait the additional few minutes until your food arrives. You’ll be less likely to overeat and be more satisfied when your meal arrives.
Choose the Right Sides
Many people choose a healthy main entree but then completely ruin the meal by adding several unhealthy sides. Let’s say you order a roasted chicken but then add french fries, onion rings, or macaroni and cheese. These sides are typically fried, high in calories, and even higher in carbohydrates.
If you want to choose healthier options, here’s some ideas:
- Steamed veggies
- Side salad with balsamic vinaigrette
- Brown rice
You don’t have to skip side dishes entirely, however, you should be cognizant of their caloric profile and try to choose the healthiest options available.
Wave Off Dessert
If you’re like most people, you love to indulge in desserts from time to time. Whether it’s a piece of chocolate cake, an ice cream sundae, or cheesecake – everybody has their vices when it comes to dessert. It would be easy enough to say skip dessert entirely. However, if you want to enjoy a slice of heaven, here’s some steps you can take.
- Split dessert with 2 or more people. Instead of having an entire dessert to yourself, share with the table and have a couple of bites
- Choose a healthier option such as fresh fruit or a sorbet
- Choose a small portion
If you struggle with willpower, it may simply be better to avoid the dessert entirely, but it doesn’t hurt to indulge yourself every once in a while.
Eat Out to Lose Weight
Achieving weight loss is all about being in a calorie deficit. Whether you eat at home or eat out – there’s still numerous ways of reaching your goals. The hard part is being aware of everything you eat. Although this may require a bit of preparation ahead of time, if you stick to a plan, chances are you’ll be able to reach your goals.
Review menus, modify meal options, and make the right choices. If you do take these steps, you’ll be well on your way to achieving the body composition of your dreams. We want you to be healthy, happy, and mentally fit – if you have any additional questions feel free to reach out to us for more information and support.