Social situations are typically planned around food. Food brings us together allowing us to bond and have that comfort. However, if you find yourself eating at restaurants or attending happy hours with co-workers more than you eat at home, this could lead to weight gain and other health problems down the road.
Finding balance is key. Follow these tips next time you go to a restaurant and you just may find yourself feeling better or even dropping a few pounds!
Have a Plan
If you know ahead of time you are going out to a restaurant for dinner, cut back on calories during other meals during the day. However, do not restrict yourself or eliminate eating all together, this could lead to extreme hunger by dinner time making it easy to overindulge.
Think ahead. Look for a restaurant with a wide range of menu items that will appeal to everyone. Check online menus, if available, for nutrition information ahead of time. Have a couple options in your head before getting to the restaurant, this will help you choose the better option when sitting at the table.
Be deliberate when ordering. Balance your meal as you would at home by selecting items such as lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how the food is prepared. With so many people having food allergies, servers are usually more than happy to provide this information. Be picky.
Ask for your chicken or steamed veggies to be cooked without butter or oils. Ask for the salad without the mountain of cheese (or on the side.) Ask that they don’t put the side of bread on the salad. If it’s not there you won’t be tempted to eat it!
Look for freshly made salads that provides “balance in a bowl.” For example something that has lots of fresh greens and vegetables with either baked or grilled chicken or seafood to provide protein, fiber, and other excellent nutrients. Skip the croutons and for the dressing – ask the server for olive oil and vinegar. Avoid creamy dressings which are mayo based and high in saturated fat and “empty” calories.
Many restaurants honor requests, so don’t be afraid to ask your server questions and make special requests to meet your nutritional needs. For example, many places will substitute the french fries for a side of fruit or a small salad.
Most portions are twice the size of what we need. This leads to over indulgence and over consumption making you feel uncomfortable and tired. Order menu items that contain fewer calories and eat a smaller portion. Order something off of the appetizer menu instead of an entree and add a small salad.
Eating at restaurants is usually a social event, enjoy your company by eating slowly and participating in conversation. People who are fast eaters typically overeat before they feel full, while slow eaters tend to eat less and are still satisfied.
This can be a hard change for most people. Once you become comfortable ordering food this way it just becomes a habit. We promise that you will physically feel better choosing the salad over the greasy pizza, but you’ll also feel confident in your choice by bettering your health!