1. Plan Ahead
Almost all restaurants post their menu and even nutrition information online now. Take a couple minutes to look over the menu and plot out your meal strategy. Some restaurants make it even easier for you and offer options that are “reduced calorie,” “reduced guilt,” or “500 calories or less.” When you get there, don’t be afraid to ask your server anything. They are their to help you and give you what you want.
2. No Appetizers
Most appetizers are breaded or fried, so steer clear totally unless they have a low calorie or fresh option like fish or vegetables. Some average appetizers range over 1000 calories, almost 100g fat and over 2500 mg sodium! That’s a lot. If in doubt, just skip the appetizer portion all together. Don’t be tempted by the bread or biscuits they bring either.
3. Veggies for Sides
Side dishes are a huge hidden source of calories and fat. Stick with steamed vegetables whenever possible. Ask the waiter or waitress how the veggies are prepared. If they’re fried or cooked with butter, ask if you can get them steamed instead. Most restaurants will have no problem honoring this request.
4. Dressing on the Side
Salads are a great option, nutrient packed and generally low calorie. Don’t blow it with the dressing. Ask for it on the side, and skip the cheese and croutons too. You want a salad with dressing, not dressing with some salad. Use common sense.
5. Red Sauce
Red sauces are a better choice than cream sauces. If you’re ordering pasta, ask if they have whole grain or whole wheat pasta instead of traditional white pasta, and a lot of places are even offering zucchini noodles now as an option too. Similar with soups, choose a broth base over cream base.
6. Healthy Protein, Little or No Carbs
It’s always a safer bet to order a dish with chicken, turkey, or fish. Beef is naturally going to have more calories and fat. Get grilled or broiled, and replace any starches (potatoes, fries, bread, rice, etc.) with an extra side of veggies or salad. A chicken sandwich is going to be better than a burger. Especially if you are out for dinner or you aren’t coming right from a workout, skip any complex carbohydrates. Order veggies instead.
7. Know your Cuts
All cuts of meat aren’t the same. Skinless chicken breast is a better option than the more fatty chicken thighs or legs. As for beef, look for top sirloin, tip side steak, bottom round...know that prime rib and ribeye are full fat
If you don’t like some of the combinations or platters, or if you just don’t want everything listed or you’re trying to watch your portion control, order à la carte or off the kids menu. Make your own choices on what and how much you get.
9. Water and Tea
You can consume an astonishing amount of calories in the form of your drinks. Stick with water, tea, and coffee. And if you’re drinking booze, have a glass of wine or beer. Stay away from the sweet or fruity mixed drinks that are loaded with sugar and empty calories.
10. Share with Friends
Indulgence and celebrating is perfectly okay, but don’t use that as a license to go overboard. Whatever you indulge on, whether it be appetizers, the main course, desert or drinks...share with your table and friends. Use this simple strategy to reduce your calorie intake and overall consumption. Get a taste, enjoy it and that’s it. It’s a good strategy to exercise moderation.
11. Slow Down
One of the best tricks to not overdoing it is to eat and chew more slowly. Don’t rush it. Set your fork down between bites. Look up and talk to the people you’re with, be present. Opt for places that aren’t loud or crazy, the energy and environment signals you to eat fast in those places. When you do, you don’t pay attention and before you know it you’ve overeaten or made a bunch of poor food choices in all the excitement.
12. Declare the End
Stop eating well before you are overstuffed and miserable. Signify the end by throwing your napkin on top of your plate or better yet sabotage whatever is left by sprinkling some salt on it. If it’s take-home then put it in the box and close the lid. Another trick is to pop a mint in your mouth. There are weight loss benefits to mint but you’ll also not want to eat more and mix any food flavors with the mint, it will be the declaration of the end of your meal.
After dinner, go for a stroll or some type of light activity. This will help aid digestion and just the fact that you are going to do something after the meal, you’ll order smarter and have more of a tendency to not overeat in the first place.
QUICK GUIDE: Greater (Better) Than
- Chicken Sandwich > A Burger
- Grilled or Blackened Fish > Steak
- Sweet Potato Fries > Regular Fries
- Vegetables > Rice or Bread or Fries
- Salad > Soup
- Red Sauce > Cream Sauce
- Broth Base > Cream Base
- Water > Soda or Sweet Tea
- Beer or Wine > Mixed Drinks
- 1 Beer > 4 Beers
- 1 Glass Wine > 1 Bottle Wine
- 1 bite of pie > 1 piece of pie