Eating out can sabatoge even the most diligent of healthy eaters. Keeping control requires more than will power, you need a battle plan! Here are the simple steps I follow to keep myself in check:
1. Wear fitted clothing. Never wear baggy tops, loose pants or anything else that makes you feel comfortable overeating!
2. Eat a protein bar or drink a protein shake (low sugar, high protein) on your way out. Starvation + fresh bread on the table = recipe for disaster! Never go to a restaurant starving. When that fluffy bread with butter arrives you can sit contently while everyone else pigs out.
3. Order water–and drink it! Sweet tea and soda are two beverages that are not allowed in my life. Why would I waste calories (mostly SUGAR) on something that doesn’t even fill me up? If I’m going to consume 40+ sugars trust me it will be on a tasty piece of cake or candy bar. Plus dehydration makes you feel HUNGRY.
4. Drink smart. I know those fruity cocktails are delicious but do you want to have a buddha belly? Alcohol is fat-sparing, which means your body cannot burn fat when alcohol is present. Add a bunch of sugar to the mix and you have a fatty sugary disaster! The good news is that there are plenty of ‘skinny’ cocktails on most menus now, but if not opt for ultra light beer, light-colored wine (less sugar) or clear liquor mixed with soda or water and fresh fruit.
5. Say no to greasy appetizers. Is the whole table ordering a deep fried plate of food with a bucket of ranch? Ask the waiter to bring your salad early, or order something else that is a little safer. DO NOT let others at the table make you feel guilty. Just smile and say, “Thank you but this is what I really want.” If you feel like you are going to explode if you can’t eat a basket of hushpuppies (my favorite) go to the bathroom and play on your phone for a few minutes. Seriously.
6. Design your own meal. I am a vegetarian so I rarely have much to choose from on the menu. Most vegetarian options (if there are any) consist of creamy pasta and fried foods. Last night at Outback I ordered a side salad with oil and vinegar on the side (no croutons) and for dinner a plain sweet potato, grilled asparagus, steamed broccoli and seasoned rice. It was delicious and I was FULL. I always request my food to be cooked with minimal oils or butter and I avoid starchy sides. If the waiter acts annoyed (or if other people at the table act annoyed) lie and say you have an allergy or intolerance. If you eat meat, always go for grilled or blackened, never fried!
7. Put the fork down when you get full. If you are feeling out of control and cannot stop once you are clearly full, get rid of your plate ASAP or ask for a to-go box. Do not take to-go boxes if you know you will devour the contents as soon as you get home!
8. Skip dessert. This is the hardest part for me because I LOVE dessert. I could live off of sweets! If you must have something, try to eat a very sensible meal with no sugary drinks and share the dessert so you don’t eat too much. Often times I am dying for dessert but I just blurt out a fast “NO!” when the waiter asks. Then I go home and make a more sensible dessert, like fresh fruit with a little whipped cream or apples with organic peanut butter.
I don’t eat out often because I enjoy cooking and I like to know what is going into my food. Whether you eat out once a year or seven days a week, always make a battle plan. When I eat out without a plan I have digestive issues, not to mention feeling overstuffed, tired and bloated. Get that pair of skinny jeans out (you know, the ones you have been dying to fit into), take a picture with your phone and make it your screen saver if you have to! Take control and plan ahead so you don’t sabotage your healthy lifestyle.