When trying to lose weight one of the most important things to do is to know exactly what you are eating. That is why it is highly recommended that you make your own food or that you order a food plan made specifically for people on a diet. Of course you should try to make your own meals as much as possible, but that is sometimes a bit difficult because you probably also have a social life. You will sometimes need to go out with friends, your spouse, a date, or even find yourself by a fast food joint with no other choices for a meal around. If that is the case here are some things that can help you avoid foods with high calorie content.
Know What You Are Eating
The first thing that you need to do is to really pay attention to what you are eating. Do not just use the name of the food to decide if you should order it or not, because even a salad could add a lot of calories to your day. Fish is a good option for dieters, but is it fried, grilled or baked and is there a creamy sauce on it? The good news is that some restaurants and fast food chains post the calorie content for the food they serve at the restaurant or at their website. Take a look at that information so that you know what you are eating.
Another good tip for eating out while on a diet is to know the menu before you visit and plan what you want to order. Look at everything that sounds good and then decide what the healthier options are. Knowing ahead of time will save you all the guess-work once you arrive at the restaurant.Credit: Commercial Eye
Take Your Own Dressing With You
When you order a salad at a restaurant you can eat a lot of hidden calories, and one of the main sources of those calories is the dressing that you use. It is always a good idea to use your own dressing if possible, and you should not go with creamy dressings especially if you do not have the nutritional information in front of you. Look for light Italian, balsamic vinaigrette, homemade vinaigrette or even just lemon which can do wonders for a salad.
While on the topic of salads you should also pay attention to the little extras that restaurants put on them. If you like a little chicken on top, then make sure that it is either baked or grilled instead of fried. If you add fried chicken, cheese, croutons and creamy dressing then you might as well order the burger as you will probably be better off.
Drink WaterCredit: Patrick Llewelyn-Davies
The moment that you go to a restaurant you are almost guaranteeing that the food you will be consuming is not nearly as good as a healthy meal that you can make at home. Because of that it makes sense to cut your unhealthy intake as much as you can while eating outside. One of the main problems people have when they eat at restaurants is the drink they order. Try to stay away as much as possible from soda (even diet soda) and alcoholic drinks. They can give you a lot of the unhealthy stuff and very little nutrition.
There is no shame in ordering water with your meal; in fact you should feel proud of yourself if you take water instead of an unhealthy drink. Water helps you get fuller faster, has no chemicals or calories and it hydrates you. Add a little lemon if you want some flavor in it and enjoy that small step in the right direction.
If you are visiting a restaurant and ordering soup before your meal (or as a meal) then try to avoid the creamy soups in the menu. If you have a weakness for creams then make them at home where you can use at least light ingredients as opposed to "full fat" ones they use at restaurants. Broth based soups are the better ones, but keep in mind that they can also be traps depending on the ingredient list. That is when checking the nutritional information at the restaurant’s website is a life saver. If you are not sure of what you are eating then it is better to skip it.
Know The Terms To AvoidCredit: Natalie Flemming
Part of “knowing what you eat” is to know the terms used by restaurants, and which ones are the ones you need to avoid. Everyone knows that gravy does not magically mean healthy, but there are other terms in menus that you should try to avoid. Alfredo sauce is cream, butter and other spices to give it flavor; that combination of cream and butter is not the healthiest to say the least. Other terms to avoid include “smothered”, “battered”, “au gratin”, “cream sauce”, and others.
Just like there are bad terms, there are also good terms that you should look for, especially in fish and poultry. “skinless”, “poached”, “roasted”, “grilled”, “steamed”, “baked” and “boiled” are some of the best terms unless of course something says "boiled in gravy". Use common sense when ordering and you should do fine.
Know When To Stop
Another very important tip for eating at a restaurant while on a diet is to know when to stop. Just because you have a huge meal in front of you it does not mean that you have to finish it. You can always ask for the rest of your meal to go and the waiter/waitress will be happy to oblige. Eat slowly, enjoy your meal and if you start feeling full then that is your signal to put the fork down.
If like me you have to finish everything that is on your plate, then you may want to order your meal from an appetizer menu. When you order an appetizer as your meal you are getting a smaller-sized portion and saving a few dollars.
DessertCredit: Paper Boat Creative
Dessert is something that a lot of people feel that they need to have, but the reality is that a lot of the sweet stuff at restaurants is really bad for you. You would need to avoid any other sweets for a few days to make up for what you ate at the restaurant. If you feel that you need something sweet after dinner, then you may want to make your own fruit cocktail when you get home. That will satisfy your need and you will guarantee that you are eating something that is healthier than a hot fudge sundae.