Dieting doesn’t have to mean skimping on romantic evenings out or losing time with family and friends. Instead of staying at home and missing out on a delicious restaurant meal, arm yourself with knowledge so you can be social and eat smart. Follow these four surefire tips to help you stick to your diet when dining out!
Don’t Drink Your Calories
Cutting out soda, sweet tea, and alcohol is one of the simplest strategies to reduce overall calories when dieting. If you follow this tip at home, simply carry it with you to any restaurant meal. Choose calorie-free options such as water (bonus: this one is usually free!) or a diet beverage. Instead of blowing your calorie bank on liquids, save indulgences for the main course.
Take Control of Your Meal
Too often, people are hesitant to speak up about their preferences when ordering at restaurants. Never feel obligated to accept a meal other than what you originally planned. While you might have to ask for off-menu replacements, you shouldn’t settle for a meal that completely deviates from the one you planned. Take control of your meal using these simple methods:
Personalize Preparation Methods
Restaurants are pretty good at offering low-fat cooking options such as baking, roasting, or grilling, but keep in mind that simply asking for something grilled may not be enough. Despite being grilled or roasted, steaks and fish are often cooked in butter—a noticeable flavor booster, but unnoticeable calorie-booster. Don’t be afraid to ask the chef to hold the butter, skip the sauce, and bypass the oil so you can stay on track.
Skip the Free Offerings
Don’t let the bread basket that greets you at the table be your downfall. Remember, snacking counts! Filling up on complimentary tortilla chips will still cost you calories. While it’s easy to slowly nibble on these not-so-nutritious snacks, they disappear quickly, which can add unwanted calories fast. Take charge and simply inform your server ahead of time that you’re not interested in the freebies. This will place the unnecessary calories out of reach.
Make the Menu Yours
Not digging the twice-baked-potato casserole that comes with the grilled sirloin? Maybe your mouth is watering over the quinoa salad served with the fresh catch of the day, but you’re allergic to seafood. Rather than falling back to a simple grilled chicken breast and salad, speak up and ask the server specifically for what you want: the grilled sirloin and quinoa salad.
There’s simply no reason why you shouldn’t be able to order each item you want, even if what you’re after isn’t paired together on the menu. After all, the ingredients are sure to be on hand for both items. Take control of your meal and enjoy it.
Eat protein, veggies, and carbs—in that order
You don’t necessarily need to eat your macros in this order bite-for-bite, but you should focus primarily on consuming both your protein and vegetables before moving on to your carbohydrates.
Protein and high-fiber vegetables—sorry, mashed potatoes don’t make the cut—help to slow down digestion, which leaves you feeling fuller, faster. By placing an emphasis on these two items from the start, you’re less likely to overindulge in a creamy, sugary dessert because you’re already full.
Your source of fat may come from your succulent steak, fresh vinaigrette, or even from sliced avocado. If you happen to have a healthy fat mixed in, go ahead and eat that in conjunction with the protein and veggies before thinking about crushing the carbs!
Instill Portion Control From the Start
From supersized and extra fries to all-you-can-eat extravaganzas, restaurants are quickly becoming patrons’ favorite places, not only because of the dishes they serve, but because of the size of those dishes. Many people see it simply as “the bigger, the better.” Sure, this nets you more bang for your buck, but if you’re like many people and feel the urge to clean your plate(s), you’re likely to hit your macros for the next three days all in one meal.
If you find yourself at a restaurant with oversized portions, request that a to-go box be brought out with your meal. This way, once your food arrives at the table, you can put away a portion for your next meal or two and focus on enjoying the amount at hand. Hey, it’s like ordering two meals for the price of one!