Eating out is unavoidable but this should not impact your weight loss efforts. There are little things that make a big difference when eating out and if you manage to follow our weight loss tips correctly, you can enjoy your next meal without feeling guilty and more importantly without breaking your weight loss plan.
10 Dining out tips for losing weight
Tip 1: Select a good restaurant
A ‘good restaurant’ in our context is one that:
Serves a variety of menu dishes (not buffet) including fish and salads
Displays nutritional information for each meal
Has a good reputation for serving fresh food
Tip 2: Decide in advance what to eat
It is better not to go to the restaurant with an empty stomach and it is advisable that you know in advance what to eat. Before leaving home do your research by visiting the web site of the restaurant and make your decisions.
Tip 3: Choose your meals wisely
Eating out once in a while will not destroy your weight loss efforts but it is better to make smart food choices so that the impact is limited to none. As a rule of thumb try to order ‘Mediterranean style’ dishes such as fish, poultry, salads, legumes and whole grains. If this is not possible then give preference to the following dishes:
Steak – remove the fat and eat only the lean part (no sauces or gravy)
Chinese – prefer dishes that have lots of vegetables and avoid eggs as well as sweet and sour sauces. Go for steam rice instead of fried and try to avoid oil as much as possible.
Italian – Pasta with red sauce is a great choice. Carbonara and other cream sauces better be avoided.
Pizza – Vegetarian pizzas or margarita are better.
Mexican – Spicy foods are good for weight loss since they help metabolism. You can order chicken fajitas with vegetables and rice instead of chips. Minimize though the consumption or sour cream.
Tip 4: Drink Water or wine with your food
Soft and alcoholic drinks are full of calories and sugars. You can enjoy your meal with a class of red wine or water. It’s also ok to order a zero (light) soft drink. Also try to avoid fresh fruit juices and cocktails.
Tip 5: Eat an appetizer
It’s a good idea to eat an appetizer before your main meal. This will cut down your hunger and save you many calories. When choosing an appetizer avoid creamy food, cheese (for example nachos), sauces (for example chicken wings with barbecued sauce) and prefer: Salads (for example a small green salad), seafood (smoked salmon is a great choice), soups and vegetables. Have in mind that avocado which is used very often as an appetizer has a lot of fat and calories.
Tip 6: What about side dishes?
Restaurants have many choices for a side dish. You can safely choose steamed or boiled vegetables, baked potato (without butter, cheese or sauces), rice, noodles or even seafood. Potato chips, salads with dressings, fried food is not recommended.
Tip 7: Eating slowly does matter
One of the little things that do play a role is eating slowly and chewing your food very well. When eating slowly you give enough time to the brain to get the ‘signal’ from the stomach that it is full and thus avoiding the consumption of extra and unnecessary calories. Also by chewing your food very well you make the digestion process faster and easier for the stomach. Take your time, talk with your friends, drink your water or wine and enjoy your dinner.
Tip 8: Size does matter
The size of the portion does matter. Restaurants usually have big plates and this makes the food quantity look small but in reality this is not the case. Do not judge the size of the portion from the plate size but during your meal try to stop when you are feeling full. Do not get carried away by what your friends may be doing or eating and make sure that you leave space for a desert as well.
Tip 9: Deserts
Deserts don’t have to be full of fats and sugars to be tasteful. You can still enjoy a fresh fruit salad, a low-fat yogurt or a lemon pie for a desert and be happy. It’s ok to have a small ball of vanilla ice cream but as a rule of thumb try not to eat chocolate cakes, cookies and creamy deserts.
Tip 10: Enjoy your meal without feeling guilty
Even if you eat more than expected it is not the end of the World. Do not feel guilty about it, try to enjoy your meal and try to be better next time. What is important though is to take corrective actions. If for example you eat a few calories more then try to burn those calories the next day by walking, running or using other forms of exercise. You need to keep a balance so that you are happy and satisfied. If you made a mistake during your meal then you need to correct your mistake by doing something more during your exercise sessions.