Every year, Americans spend almost $750 billion eating out. On average, they eat out at a restaurant about four times over the course of a week.
This can make life very difficult for those who are trying to stick to a diet. While it’s easy to restrain yourself and stay true to your diet when you’re eating at home, it’s also easy to throw your inhibitions out the window at a restaurant and eat whatever you want.
If you’re committed to sticking to the diet plan you have set up, there are ways you can be smart while eating out. By staying disciplined and aware, you can continue dieting at a restaurant without a problem.
Here are some tips for being smart about what you eat when you’re out at a restaurant.
Tell Those You’re Eating Out With About Your Diet
Are you going to be eating out with a family member or friend? If so, give them a heads up about your diet and let them know that you’re planning to stick to it.
It’s not fair to ask someone else to abstain from eating an unhealthy meal. If they want to order a hamburger or a cheesesteak, they should be allowed to do it.
But at the very least, letting others know about your diet will force them to rethink the way they talk about food at the table. They’ll be less inclined to talk about how good all of the unhealthy food looks and might even follow your lead and go with a healthy meal.
Choose a Restaurant That Offers Healthy Options
In addition to telling whoever you’re going to be eating out with about your diet, you should also put some real thought into where you go out to eat.
If you choose a place that serves nothing but unhealthy options, you’re going to be setting yourself up to fail. Instead, try and pick a place that has some healthy choices for you.
The good news is that many restaurants understand that people want healthy options and have started to provide them. But not all restaurants take this approach.
Steer clear of the places that only serve foods that are high in fat, carbohydrates, and everything else you’re staying away from. It’ll serve you well in the end.
Check Out a Restaurant’s Menu Before You Arrive
Most restaurants have their menus on their websites these days. Take advantage of this by perusing a restaurant’s menu before you arrive at it.
By doing this, you’ll give yourself the chance to get excited about whatever meal you want to eat. You won’t be quite as tempted by all the burgers and fries flying around your head once you get to the restaurant.
Make the Meal You Want as Healthy as It Can Be
Most restaurants offer healthy meals to their customers. But there are ways you can make a healthy meal even healthier by getting a little bit creative.
For example, if you order a salad, it’s probably going to come covered in some kind of dressing. That dressing could very well contain tons of calories that will ruin your diet. You can get around this by asking your waiter to bring your dressing out to you on the side.
You can also substitute certain sides for healthier options. A baked potato would be better than mashed potatoes, while fruit would be better than potato salad.
If you’re unsure of what healthy options you have available to you, ask your waiter to suggest how to make a meal healthier before it arrives.
Practice Portion Control When Your Meal Arrives
Portion control can be a big problem at a restaurant. More often than not, restaurants serve huge meals to their customers with more food than they can possibly eat.
When you have a lot of food on your plate, you’re going to be tempted to eat it all. Rather than doing that, decide how much you’re going to eat before you start and then stick to it.
You can always bring home part of your meal and eat it later.
Eat as Slowly as You Can and Enjoy Your Company
Many people overeat simply because they eat too quickly. They shovel food into their mouths too fast and don’t give their brains time to process what’s happening.
Before they know it, they’re stuffed and can’t believe how much they ate. It’s a common problem that lots of people face at restaurants.
Instead of eating quickly, slow yourself down and chew your food. In between bites, talk with whoever you’re eating with and avoid rushing through your meal.
It’ll allow you to enjoy your meal more overall. It’ll also help you catch up with your family members and friends as you eat.
Resist the Urge to Order Dessert
“Is anyone ready for dessert?”
Before you started your diet, you might have yelled “YES!” when the waiter came to your table and asked that question.
But now that you’re dieting, it’s important for you to stay away from sugary treats that aren’t good for you. That means skipping the pie, cake, and ice cream at a restaurant.
It won’t be easy to do this at first. But eating dessert could end up reversing all the good you just did for yourself by sticking to your diet during your meal. So make a strong effort not to indulge in dessert when the waiter asks if you want any.
Eating Out Doesn’t Have to Derail Your Diet
You don’t need to avoid eating out altogether when you’re dieting. You simply need to be smart about your approach to eating at restaurants and other establishments.
You can eat out regularly and still lose weight as long as you choose the right foods to eat and stay away from anything that will make you revert back to your old ways.
Read our blog to learn more about how to lose weight and establish healthy eating habits while still enjoying life and making the most of it.