How to Eat Out and Still Stay on a Diet
Sticking to your diet while you are eating out is similar to sticking to a monetary budget, in many respects. The major difference is that with a diet there is no one else who can pay the bill for you. If you overeat, you will be the one who will have to account for the additional calories, grams of fat, sodium, cholesterol or whatever category sent you over your limits.
Make a Sensible Choice When Choosing Where to Eat.
Put yourself on the path for success by choosing a place to eat that is less likely to steer you far from your goals. Some restaurants have a reputation for serving meals that are high in fat and calories. The food may be very tasty and the service may be great, but if you go to one of these places to eat, there is a good chance that you will eat foods not on your diet plan.
Go in with a plan for what you can and cannot eat. It is much more difficult to make good decisions when you are confronted with a menu of desirable food items. Successful restaurants put a lot of effort into creating an atmosphere where their patrons will order large amounts. The role restaurants take on is to make you feel good about what you have eaten. Most restaurants have no interest in helping you to stick to your diet. Reduce the power temptation holds over you when you have to make a decision based on impulse. Write your plans down or enlist your dining companion in your efforts.
Ask About Healthy Menu Alternatives.
Your waitperson may be able to suggest items from the menu that will fit with your diet. If you cannot tell how a restaurant prepares a dish from reading the menu, the wait staff will usually know. Watch out for add-ons that add on the calories. Fruit for dessert is a good choice, unless they cover the fruit with heavy syrup. Salad is great, but many dressings are loaded with calories.
Don’t Overindulge in Food.
If you eat out infrequently, you may be tempted to eat more than you should as a way of getting the most from the experience. Resist this temptation. Ask them to wrap up the portion that you do not eat. If you take food home with you, you will feel less like you are depriving yourself of something. Take small bites and chew your food thoroughly. Give your food time to let your brain know that you have had enough to eat.
Overindulge in Atmosphere.
Eat up all you can of the atmosphere and ambiance of the restaurant. Revel in the companionship of your dining companion, if you are out on a social occasion. If you are eating out as part of a work related dinner, then focus on strengthening your business connections. If you focus on listening to your dinner companions, you will spend less time eating. Do your part to keep the conversation going because every moment you spend talking is one less moment you spend eating. Take note of the good qualities the restaurant may have to offer. Find something non-food related that will help you to enjoy the experience so that the food is not the only thing you think about.
Enjoy Your Meal.
Make plans and do your best to stick with them, but avoid placing undue stress on yourself while you are out. A meal filled with stress and anxiety can do more than the fat and calories to undo your healthy eating habits. Accept that you will make mistakes every now and then. Acknowledge your errors and take them into account as you plan you next meals. You may need to alter what you can or cannot eat for a few days or you may have to adjust your weight loss goals.
If you are out with friends for a casual meal or celebrating a special occasion, that meal is as much a part of your life as your overall diet; do not let one ruin the other. You can eat a healthy meal and eat out if you remember to stick to your budget.
Tom writes for Assisted Living Today, a leading source of information on a range of topics related to elderly care and assisted living facilities dallas.