Restaurant Diet & Weight Loss Tips: How to Make Healthy Choices While Eating Out

Restaurant Diet & Weight Loss Tips: How to Make Healthy Choices While Eating Out

Can you eat out when you’re trying to lose weight? Of course, but you need to be careful. Restaurant portions are out of control, and it’s often hard to know exactly what the nutritional value is of a restaurant meal. Many chain restaurants publish the calories, fat, and nutrition data of their products on their websites. However, many do not, and it’s rare for non-chain restaurants to have this information available.

Here are some tips for making your restaurant meal as diet-friendly as possible,

Ask for a Doggie Bag at the Beginning of the Meal

Your server may look at you like you’re crazy. But if the portion is way too big, this is a great way for you to control your serving and avoid overeating. Put everything in the doggie bag except for a reasonable sized portion, which you should leave on the plate and enjoy. Don’t be too chintzy with yourself, or you’ll be tempted to go into the doggie bag and take more.

Order Food Family-Style

Many restaurants serve “entrees” that are easily big enough to serve two or more hungry people. If this is the case, order one entree and share. Chances are that there will be plenty to eat– and if you’ve underestimated, you can always order more.

Order Condiments and Fattening Foods on the Side

You can always ask your server to omit fattening choices like sour cream, salad dressing, butter, and hollandaise sauce. However, if these are things you love, you can control your portion by asking for these things on the side. This will allow you to dip your food in your fattening condiments instead of pouring it on top. You might find that a few tablespoons are perfectly satisfying.

Substitute Healthier Condiments and Sauces

If your entree comes with condiments that are unhealthy, ask to replace them with something with less fat and fewer calories. If you’re not sure what substitutes will work, ask your server for advice. Here are some unhealthy condiments to avoid, and some healthier substitutes.

Unhealthy Condiments and Sauces:

  • Hollandaise sauce
  • Gravy
  • Full fat sour cream
  • Full fat salad dressing
  • Full fat mayonnaise
  • Butter
  • Full fat cheese
  • Cream
  • Maple syrup
  • Tartar sauce
  • Alfredo sauce
  • Carbonara sauce
  • Peanut sauce
  • Oil

Healthier Condiments and Sauces:

  • Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Marinara sauce
  • Salsa
  • Cocktail sauce
  • Vinegar
  • Low-fat salad dressing
  • Low-fat sour cream
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Low-fat mayonnaise
  • Yogurt
  • Chutney (in moderation)
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables

Substitute a Salad

Even if they don’t say so on the menu, many restaurants will allow you to order a salad– or another healthy option–in place of french fries and other fattening side dishes. You may be charged a little extra, but probably not much.

Substitute Whole Wheat Options

As often as possible, ask for whole wheat bread, pasta, rice, and other products. This will cut down on calories and add quite a bit of nutritional value. In addition, whole wheat products often are more filling and can help prevent overeating.

Drink Water

Drinking lots of water is good for everyone, and it can help speed up your weight loss. It can also fill you up a bit and prevent you from overeating. Even if you’re drinking something else, ask for a glass of water as well, and be sure to drink as much of it as you can.

Ask Your Server for Suggestions

Some servers are much more knowledgeable and helpful than others. But if you’re unsure what to order, give your server a chance and ask for recommendations on the lighter menu selections.

Enjoy Yourself

For many people, eating out is a pleasurable experience, and if you deny yourself this entirely, it will be harder to stay on track and stick to your diet. Treat yourself to a night out, and enjoy it. Eat as carefully as you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you eat a little too much. Remember, weight loss is much easier if you change your lifestyle, so get into the habit of eating out in a manner that’s more healthful. Best of luck!

Categories: Diet, Health, Weight Loss