Planning your meals and shopping for groceries once per week is one of the best ways to stay on track toward your weight loss goals. Advance preparation helps to ensure that you don’t end up at a drive-through window on a busy weeknight, and most people feel more motivated when they construct a plan of action.
But sometimes life intervenes. We get busy, need to travel, or simply want to go out and celebrate a special occasion. The good news is that eating out doesn’t have to equal wrecking your diet. There are several strategies you can employ, to ensure that one meal doesn’t throw you off course.
Box it up. Part of the problem with restaurant meals is that they tend to be enormous. Eating a double portion of any food, even a reasonably healthy one, means double the calories. Ask for a box when you place your order, and put half of your entree in the box immediately. Think of it like this: You get to enjoy a delicious meal again tomorrow!
Preparation is key. Look for entrees that are steamed, grilled, broiled, or poached. These are less fattening methods of preparing food. Avoid foods that are breaded or fried.
Don’t smother it. Most sauces are very fatty, particularly cream sauces and salad dressings. Ask for all sauces on the side, and dip your food rather than drowning it. Also, keep in mind that oil-based salad dressings tend to be healthier than creamy dressings.
Remember, drinks have calories too. If you’re on a date or celebrating with friends, you might be tempted to indulge in a cocktail. Mixed drinks are often sugary and contain several hundred calories each. Ditto for soft drinks.
Don’t confuse thirst with hunger. Sometimes people tend to eat more when they’re actually thirsty. Drink a full glass of water before you go out, or when you first arrive at the restaurant. You’ll be less likely to over-indulge in too much comfort food.
Don’t be afraid to ask. If you’re unsure of the menu’s healthy options, don’t be afraid to ask your server for help. Often a chef will be happy to modify a menu item to make it more suitable for a health-conscious guest.