Losing Weight and Eating Out: How to Make it Work

Can you eat out and still lose weight? Eggplant parmesan, a thick steak, sizzling fajitas, and a glass of red wine. It made your mouth water, right? Eating out is one of life’s greatest pleasures, especially if you are celebrating with friends and family. But poor choices can wreck your nutrition and diet plans. Not to worry, though, eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to avoid your favorite foods.

According to USDA (US Department of Agriculture) data, eating out several times a week leads to weight gain and obesity. Each meal adds 134 calories on average to a person’s daily intake. An additional hundred more if you’re eating in a fast-food restaurant. These numbers are not good if you’re on a diet yet enjoy keeping your social calendar booked. The good news is you have a lot of choices to ensure these numbers don’t apply when you’re eating out.
Here are some philosophies to keep in mind to balance losing weight while eating out.

1. Plan Ahead

It doesn’t matter whether you’re fine dining or just grabbing a quick bite with friends. You have to know the menu before you leave. A lot of restaurants publish their nutritional information online. You can also check MenuStat as a reference. Do not skip a meal with the thought that you will splurge later anyway. It sounds like a good idea, but waiting until you’re very hungry will cause you to overeat. Stick to your regular meal schedule by eating something light, like a piece of fruit.

Think about what you might order and see if there are meals that can be customized to fit your diet. If you’re hungry, have a handful of almonds or a piece of fruit before you leave so you won’t end up choosing a less healthy meal when you get to the restaurant. Don’t deprive yourself at home so you won’t go overboard once you’re out. 

2. Be Mindful Of Portion Distortion

American serving sizes are too big, making you feel the need to clean your plate out. Remind yourself of suitable portion sizes to keep yourself from overeating. Set aside half of your meal for later. You can eat it at home. Have a salad or fruit to help you feel full. Ask the restaurant if they can provide you with a lunch-sized portion. Buffets are a bad idea. If you can’t avoid one, go for fresh fruits and salad choices.

Go for fresh fish or lean meat when ordering your main meal. Avoid anything fried or sauteed. Skip fattening foods and make small substitutions like a lean sirloin over a New York strip steak, black beans instead of refried beans, and steamed rice instead of fried.

3. Watch the Bread Basket

Ask the waiter not to bring bread and butter or chips and salsa to your table. Stay away from crispy, creamy, or rich appetizers. Go for broth-based soups, seared tuna, or fresh vegetables.

4. Order Colorful Foods

Go for natural colors in your meal for more nutrients and vitamins. A sweet potato, which is full of Vitamins A, C, and beta-carotene, is much better than a white potato. Multi-colored peppers are a great source of vitamins when roasted. Make sure you eat enough fruits and vegetables since they contain essential nutrients and help fill you up.

5. Make healthy choices.

  • Order broiled or grilled food (never fried).
  • Choose baked potatoes over fries.
  • Drink lemon water instead of soda.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. A wine spritzer or a mojito is a better choice than a cocktail with lots of sugar (margaritas, daiquiris).
  • Keep it to two drinks maximum. Empty calories in alcohol can add up quickly. Sip your drink slowly and have water with your meal.
  • Use a vinaigrette salad dressing instead of ranch. Salads can be vehicles for loads of calories when they’re soaked with dressing or oils, cheese, croutons, and dried fruit. You can customize your salad to make it healthier. Order dressing on the side, and skip the croutons.
  • Avoid additional salt.
  • Split a dessert with friends. Indulge in a dessert or a drink, but not both. Always ask for portion sizes when you order, so you can split if they’re large. If they serve massive slices of cheesecake and brownies, ask for a box to take some home. Order lattes with nonfat milk instead of whole milk or cream. Keep your dessert to one or two nights a week so you have an occasional treat to look forward to.

6. Fast food choices.

Skip on super-sized versions. Choose the kid-sized kind instead. Always choose grilled entrees and get side salads, fruit slices, and yogurts.

7. Consider timing.

Always eat earlier, especially for dinner. Finish your last meal at least two hours before bedtime. If you have to eat late, ensure that you can walk after or fit in a workout. Avoid dinner reservations when restaurants are most crowded. You should be looking forward to a relaxed dining experience.

8. Choose quality over quantity.

Look for a quality experience – fresh produce or organic meat instead of large portions when you’re eating out. Speak up and ask what’s suitable for your diet. You should leave the restaurant feeling satisfied and not guilty.

9. Enjoy!

Savor your meal. Eat slowly, relish conversations, and appreciate the atmosphere. It takes time for your brain to register that you’re full, so a slower pace gives your mind the time to get the signal.

Dining out doesn’t have to upset your diet or exercise plan. Eating healthier also doesn’t mean that you can’t go to a new restaurant you’ve been looking forward to trying. A nutritionist or weight loss center in Reno, NV, can give you additional information on how to eat healthier, whether you’re eating at home or having lunch with friends.

If you need more practical advice on how to eat healthier, get a free consultation from Reno Weight Loss here.