May 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm
by Irina Gonzalez
I’ve spent the better part of my adult life dieting, often going up and down. Now that I’m finally on the road to success (as in, keeping it off for life), I’ve learned a thing or two–especially when it comes to eating healthy in restaurants. Although I try to keep most of my meals home cooked (since that way I can control the portion sizes, the cooking oils and how many veggies I add in), sometimes eating out is unavoidable. For instance, my mom is coming to visit this weekend. I know that means going out to restaurants for pretty much every single meal–and that does worry me a little. So now I’m reminding myself of the best healthy dining out tips I’ve learned throughout the years. I hope they’ll help make you a diet success, too.
1. Share, share, share! At every meal, I start with making a decision: will I have a drink with dinner, an appetizer or dessert? It’s not really a good idea to do all of them since the calories will add up, but no matter which one I choose I make sure to share it with whoever I’m with. This goes especially for dessert. Sometimes I’ll be craving something sweet to end my meal but I always, always make it a policy to split it with my dinner partner. The dessert will taste just as sweet if you have a couple of bites instead of the whole thing. I sometimes even opt to share everything. My mom and I actually like to do this a lot. We’ll split an appetizer, an entree and a dessert. That way we get to sample all three without going overboard.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask. The first thing I learned about healthy eating out is to take one roll of bread from the bread basket and ask the waiter to take the rest away. Another great tip is to ask them to triple the vegetables that come on the side of your entree. Some even ask the waiter to pack up half of the dinner (for lunch the next day) before the plate even comes to the table. Those are all great ideas but they start with one thing: clear communication with your waiter. That’s why you have to not be afraid to ask. Remember that you’re the customer and, if you’re really serious about eating healthy at a restaurant, you have to make smart choices and those smart choices don’t start without you asking for them.
3. Stop feeling guilty. Above all the top thing I learned about eating out is that you have to give yourself a break once in a while. You’re not perfect and your dining out experience isn’t going to be perfect, either. Maybe your family will want to keep the bread basket on the table, maybe you’ll want to have a few extra bites of dessert, maybe you won’t be able to resist one of the slightly-less-healthy entree options. It happens. Take a deep breath and forgive yourself. I’ve had days that started out well and then went downhill during lunch. But then I moved on and didn’t let one slip up ruin the rest of my day or weekend. So stop feeling guilty when you have a meal that isn’t ideal and just commit to the next one being better.
Do you eat out a lot? How do you keep healthy while dining in restaurants? Share in the comments below!