When life gets busy, it’s tempting to pick up take out, order a pizza, or head out to dinner instead of slaving away in the kitchen. It is no wonder that 1 in 10 meals occur outside of the home. But eating out comes along with high-calories meals, large portion sizes, and tons of fats and sugars. There is no question that it can be difficult to balance our hectic schedules with healthy choices. So, the next time you’re dining out, consider these tips that will help you do it – all while sticking to your diet.
Tip #1: Keep Your Portions Small
The amount that you would eat at home compared to the amount of food you’re given when you’re dining out is totally different. You will likely find the portion sizes are more than double. That means it is easy to overindulge. To stick to your diet, you need to remember to avoid trying to clean your plate. If you don’t finish something you can always have it packed up and saved for another time. You may also want to share a meal with a friend or family member instead.
Tip #2: Think About Nutrition
Just because you’re not eating at home doesn’t mean that you’ve been given a free pass. You’ll be paying for whatever you eat out later on! Whether you are grabbing fast food or are sitting down at a restaurant, think about nutrition. Are there options to substitute a baked potato or a side salad instead of fries? Does anything come steamed? What items are deep-fried? Is there grilled chicken or salmon on the menu? Do what you can with what you have. Thinking about nutrition can help you stay focused on the best items to order.
Tip #3: Always Be Prepared
Nowadays, more and more restaurants have menus online. If you have a special dinner coming up, look at the menu and think about what you may order ahead of time. That way, you won’t give into the temptation to order a starter, full entrée and a meal. In addition, more places are starting to list the number of calories for each item. Knowing beforehand can help you make the better choice.
Tip #4: Find Appropriate Substitutions
Eating out doesn’t mean totally blowing your calories for the day. There are ways that you can make healthier choices, even when you aren’t at home. The answer? Substitutions. That may mean doing things like: asking for whole wheat rolls at the dinner table, finding out if they offer whole grain pizza crust, filling up on water instead of pop, avoiding sugary alcoholic beverages, or cutting down on your condiments. Small, barely noticeable changes can help you eat better even when certain things are out of your control.
Having a meal out doesn’t have to be the end of the world…and it certainly shouldn’t be an excuse to completely forget about your weight loss goals. Instead of throwing your hands in the air, make the best choices you can in any given situation. If you do happen to eat badly one night, make sure that you make up for it over the next couple of days. Finding the right balance will help you eat out without giving up your healthy lifestyle.