Help! I’m a hardcore foodie… I live in a big city with fantastic restaurants on virtually every corner. When I’m at home I’m careful about what I eat. But once I’m out, I have a hard time controlling myself. Eating out is a big part of my work and social life, so how can I keep from overindulging?
Great question! Having a restaurant meal has gone from an occasional luxury to a weekly (or even daily) occurrence. Gone are the days when you could overeat simply because you weren’t at home. According to the National Restaurant Association, Americans spent a whopping 1.7 billion dollars at restaurants on a typical day!
The good news is that you can dine out without filling out. Our new book, The Real Skinny: Appetite for Health’s 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions, has a whole section devoted to navigating the restaurant scene. Here are a few tips from the book:
1. Don’t Starve Yourself!
When you know you’re going out to eat for dinner do you “save up” your hunger all day? Trust us, this is not the right approach. The last thing you want is to wind up in a restaurant feeling starved. You’ll be much more likely to inhale the whole breadbasket and everything else being served as soon as you get to your table. Instead, eat a normal breakfast and lunch. If you are dining out after 6pm, be sure to have a balanced snack before you go.
2. Speaking of bread baskets… skip ‘em!
We love bread too! But starting off with bread at the table usually results in more total calories per meal. (Unless you’re one of those amazing people who can have one slice of bread and stop. If that’s you… you’re our hero and can skip this rule!) For everyone else, simply say “no thank you” when the wait staff attempts to serve the bread.
3. Make your appetizer a salad or broth-based soup
The healthiest beginning to any meal is often a salad. Salads not only provide substantial nutrition per bite, they also help fill you up on fewer calories. Just be sure to order dressing and/or sauce on the side. Instead of slathering your salad in high calorie dressings, just keep a small dish on the side and dip your fork in before eating each bit. This will impart the flavor of the dressing without adding too many calories.Another slimming starter is a broth-based soup, like miso or chicken consumme. The high water content has been shown to result in a lower calorie intake for the whole meal. Avoid cream-based soups.
4. Portion control: a diner’s best friend.
Whether you’re at home or eating out, portion size matters. Getting portions under control at restaurants can be particularly tricky since serving sizes have grown by leaps and bounds in recent decades. (And we’re assuming you don’t travel with measuring cups and spoons!) But that shouldn’t stop you from eating out. Order an appetizer or half-size portions instead of a full entrée portion. Or you can share an entrée and a starter salad… this way you’ll save calories and money! If these aren’t options, never feel shy about bringing home leftovers. Ask your sever to divide the serving in the kitchen, putting ½ in a doggie bag (ask to keep heated or cold if necessary) and plating the other half.
5. Know Before You Go
Plan ahead! This is 90% of the battle when it comes to managing out-of-control dining. Many restaurants today are making huge strides in offering and nutritious fare. Be sure to check menus online to help guide your choice. Some popular chains now include calorie, fat, sodium and other nutritional information. Do your homework so that before you even set foot in the door, you’ll know what the healthy options are and if you should even bother going. Decide ahead of time what you’re going to order, and stick with it.
For more info on how to eat out without filling out and 100 other “Slim Solutions”, pick up a copy of our book today!