When it comes to eating healthy, life doesn’t make it easy. Between easy-to-grab snack options, fast food, casual dining, and the occasional indulgent restaurant meal, how does someone keep to a set weight loss regiment? On top of that, as our bodies age and process food differently, our diets may have to change out of necessity.
When we’re younger, our bodies can typically process food more quickly and handle a greater variety of foods without slowing down. At a certain point however, our metabolisms switch into a slower gear and begin storing those calories more than burning them. At this point carefully looking at your dining out plans can go a long way towards avoiding picking up some extra pounds.
So What Do You Do?
Coming to terms with the fact that we can’t eat like we used to is an important first step. When we’re at home, it’s possible to make conscious decisions about the foods we put on our plate.
But we don’t always eat at home.
Keeping an eye on the foods we eat while we’re out can be a major source of extra calories and fat. Here are some helpful tips when dining out that can keep you from turning a small treat into a broken diet!
Load Up The The Healthy Stuff
When looking at menu options, lots of entrees come with a side option. Your first move should be to look at the vegetable options and see if there’s a way to turn those into larger portions. Most locations don’t have a problem with adding an extra portion of broccoli or something similar.
Additionally, many plates come with a garnish of veggies, so why not ask for more? Making sure your meal is made up of more of these kinds of foods ensures that you’re not filling up on food that’s not exactly within your diet parameters.
No one wants to be “that person” at a dining out experience, but go ahead and ask how the food is specifically prepared. Menus regularly prop up food using language that might not accurately describe how a food item has been cooked. Asking the question and confirming that the food has been grilled, steamed, or roasted can save you heartache later on.
Savor The Flavor
When you actually get to eating your meal, take your time. One of the problems with eating out is that you feel like you’re on the clock and need to eat more quickly. Because it takes time for our bodies to let us know how full we actually are, you could be overeating without realizing it.
Take your time and enjoy your food and the atmosphere of the place you’re eating. That next bite will be very much the same as the one you just had, so there’s no rush! Waiting for that signal from your stomach that you’ve had enough can keep you from eating yourself out of a diet.
Avoid The Unlimited Options
This goes without saying, but skip on the unlimited refills when you’re eating out. Those options are typically overpriced, and we’re encouraged to try to get the most for our money. If you find yourself without a choice, try loading up your plate with salad to prevent picking up too many unhealthy options at once.
Ask For A Box Right Away
When ordering, make a point to ask for half of your portion to be put in a box before it even gets to your table. If you don’t see it actually on your plate, you won’t expect to eat it right away. In addition, you’ll also have food for later!
Read “Healthy” Options Critically
Even if a plate says it’s low-carb or low-fat, that doesn’t necessarily make it healthy. In order to compensate for the reduced fat, many recipes add lots of salt, which can cause you to retain more water and result in other unhealthy factors.
This is a situation where writers may have technically told the truth, but are actually just omitting some information. “Sugar-free” doesn’t mean there’s no sugar. It usually means no high fructose corn syrup or simple sugar has been added, but sugar from other sources is still sugar. Don’t fall for the claims!
It’s About More Than One Meal
At the end of the day, one meal shouldn’t derail your diet overall. If you slip a bit once, that’s not a big deal, but it’s the continued pattern that can arise from slipping often. So think about how your occasional dining out experience can impact your diet. Does it fit with the rest of your meals? Is it sustainable along with your other food choices?
By following these simple pieces of advice and being mindful about your dining out decisions, it can be much easier to maintain a diet over a long period of time. Consistency is key, so by going over your expectations before going out, you can set yourself up for success. Continuing positive patterns of eating and activity can make all the difference in a weight loss plan. Even when you have a minor misstep, don’t be discouraged—stick with it!