The Dish On Dining Out

How to stay in control while dining out:

Dining out and other social settings centered around food can certainly present some challenges when you’re on a weight loss program. Some people handle these situations by avoiding them altogether only to soon feel anti-social, isolated or left out. Having weight loss goals does not mean you have to stop living! My goal is to show you how to stay on track and how to stay in control, even when someone else is preparing your food. As an independent eater, I want you to feel empowered to not let restaurants and other social-eating events derail your progress in making balanced nutrition a commitment for life. Remember, there’s a world of healthy choices out there, and you’re the boss of what you put into your body.

Here are some great tips to try:

1. Ask Questions: If a menu doesn’t specifically say how the food is being prepared, ask questions. While it may never occur to you at home to cook something swimming in butter, cream or oil, that may be just how the salmon of the day is prepared.

2. Request a more healthy method of preparation; steaming, poaching in broth or stir-frying is good alternatives to breading or deep-frying.

3. Get the bread off the table. Nibbling on bread can really derail your good intentions. Ask if fresh veggie sticks are available, if not you can muster enough willpower to wait until your meal, can’t you? Drink some water, or ask for a small dinner salad while you’re waiting.

4. As a rule of thumb, get sauces and dressings on the side. This way you can control the amount and most likely, you’ll find you need far less for the food to be “dressed” than they generously give you.

5. Ask for To Go: Think about this, the same amount of pasta is served to a 120-pound woman as to a 250-pound man. So, while big portions may give you more for your money, don’t let a restaurant dictate the portion you intake for fuel and energy. They don’t know your body’s needs. Ask for a “To Go” container when your food arrives. Immediately store the excess food, and put that box away. Leaving a giant portion of food on your plate can lead to overeating before you even realize it.

6. Don’t be afraid to change up the menu. Ask for a hearty helping of veggies in place of white rice or buttery mashed potatoes. Most restaurants are willing to accommodate your dietary needs. On those rare occasions when you’re not, you might try something my girlfriend does, and tell the waiter you’re allergic to the food item you don’t want!

7. Slow down. Take time to put your fork and knife down between bites to sip some water, and enjoy the entire experience of your meal. This allows you to pay closer attention to how your food makes you feel. Are you getting more energized with each bite or are you growing more tired and sluggish? Also, when you’re eating at a slower pace, you can register when you’re satisfied. It will help you avoid getting overstuffed.