Staying on track during the holidays is one thing, but eating out is something you do year round. It is a quick way to ruin your diet or health regimen, but it doesn't have to be. Know when to indulge and when to eat wisely! Below are 7 tips to help you eat more mindfully when dining out:
1. Choose a restaurant that provides nutrition: This allows you to know how much you're putting into your mouth (yes, it's an estimation, but that's okay)! If nothing on the menu "fits your macros" or calories, then choose something and portion it out. If it's a 1,000 calorie menu item (pretty common when eating out), choose to only eat half of the meal.
a. Chipotle, Cheesecake Factory, Seasons 52, Pie Five, and so many more restaurants have their nutrition posted online! You can always check the restaurants section in the MyFitnessPal app for menus.
2. Check the menu ahead of time and make a plan: If you’re worried about over indulging, look at the menu and make a plan. Pick out a healthier option and stick to it once you get to the restaurant. It’s easy to go into a restaurant thinking you’ll pick the healthy option but then browse the menu and change your mind on a whim. I'm very guilty of this. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, sticking to your guns 75% of the time will make a difference. If you go in knowing what you’re ordering, you have no need to check the menu again and change your mind. STICK TO THE PLAN!
3. Order dressing/sauces on the side: Ordering dressing on the side can be the difference between 100 calories and 500 calories. This will allow you to portion how much dressing you’ll use instead of a salad drenched in ranch. A good dressing substitution could be freshly squeezed lemon juice - you don't need something creamy and fancy to make your salad taste great - lemon juice will provide a nice fresh taste at zero calories!
4. Swap fries for a vegetable: This is not an easy swap (who doesn't love the smell of fresh fries!!!) but your body will thank you later.
5. Order water/unsweetened tea instead of a sugary or alcoholic beverage.
6. Indulge mindfully: There is absolutely nothing wrong with ordering what you want! But, if you want to watch your weight, indulge mindfully. Ask for them to bring a to-go box with your meal and place half of it in there right away! This prevents you from over indulging or eating past fullness. Or, choose to split that large burger and fries meal you've been craving with a friend or significant other.
7. You are in control: There is no harm in asking for your food to be prepared your way. Of course, some restaurants won't make the changes but you'd be surprised how many will. For instance, maybe you want your meal prepared with minimal butter and oil. Also, never be afraid to ask for a combination or a cooking style that isn’t on the menu. If they only list mashed potatoes, you may be able to get a baked potato. Even if they don't list a side of fruit as a substitution, they may have it. Always ask.
Do you have any other tips for eating out? Let me know in the comments below and I will add them to the list!