7 Strategies to Help You Eat Healthy When You Eat Out

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After the indulgent foods eaten over the holidays,

I was determined to stay on track during a road

trip with my husband last week.

 

I packed water bottles, almonds, and apples for

snacks.  However, eating out was inevitable.  And

it's always harder to make healthy choices when

away from home.

 

So, what can we do to help us eat healthy when

we eat out?  Here are 7 strategies that allow you

to enjoy eating meals out with family and friends

without derailing your healthy lifestyle.

 

 1. Choose the restaurant

 

When you have the option, pick a restaurant with

healthy options. Look for cuisines centered around

whole grains, vegetables, and lean protein (Greek,

Indian, or Japanese).

 

Also, consider eating at places that have a seasonal

menu.  They are likely to cook with fresh, local

meats and produce.  This doesn't only make the

food taste better, but is generally better for you.

 

 

 2. Preview the menu

 

You can find most restaurant menus online.  This

allows you to check out the menu before you even

leave home.  It is easier to make a wise decision at

home. . . you aren't as hungry and away from the

influence of what others are ordering.

 

In addition, once you arrive, the sight and smell of

food can make sticking to your plan more difficult.

Showing up with a plan of what to order will help

you avoid snap decision you might regret later.

 

 

3. Make a special request

 

When ordering your meal, don't be shy.  Foods on

the menu described as fried, crispy, crunchy, or

creamy are often not going to be a good choice.

Politely ask your server if these meals can be

prepared steamed, grilled, or roasted.

 

It's usually easy to substitute a salad or double the

veggies. Asking for sauces and condiments on the

side can be a simple fix too. Most places are willing

to adapt their meals to meet your needs.

 

 4. Box half your entree

 

So often, I have ordered something at a restaurant

with the intent of only eating half.  I know most

American restaurants serve two to three times

more food than a serving.  I put my fork down

several times and claim to be finished.  As I chat

with friends, I unconsciously continue to eat.  I'm

not hungry anymore. It's just there.

 

You can ask for an extra plate to divide your entree

yourself, or ask your server if they are able to box

up half right from the start.  Another option is to

split an entree with someone.  Either way, you're

getting two meals for the price of one.

 

 5. Slow down

 

It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the

message from your stomach that it is full.  If you

slow down, chew more, and put your fork down

between bites you are less likely to overeat.

 

You won't be left hungry either, because by this

time your brain senses you are no longer hungry

and you will feel satisfied.

 

 6. Drink water

 

Just by replacing sugar sweetened drinks or alcohol

with water, you will reduce the calories at a meal.

In addition, those sodas and specialty drink don't

hydrate us and often leave us craving more sugar.  

 

One study showed that those who drank 500 mL of

water 30 minutes before a meal ate fewer calories

than those who didn't.  They felt full sooner and

didn't mistake thirst for hunger.

 

Alternate bites with big sips of water and it will also

force you to slow down.  You'll better be able to

judge if you are even still hungry for that next bite.

 

 

 7. Dress up to go out

 

I'm sure I eat twice as much at a meal in yoga pants

as in jeans.  So, even if it's just going out to a casual

family meal try to dress nicely. (I'm talking pants

with a button)

 

In addition to less room in the waist band, you will

treat the meal differently.  If you view it as a special

event, different from your everyday dinner at

home, it will change the way you feel about it.  You

will savor your food and your company with more

mindfulness.

 

Of course, there will be times when you want to eat

your favorite restaurant foods for pleasure and not

worry about it's health factor.

 

Being flexible about your diet and food choices is

critical to long term success with health and weight

loss.   If you are following healthy meal patterns

most of the time, go ahead and treat yourself

(GUILT FREE!) occasionally.  Keep your eyes on

your overall wellness plan.

 

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