Eating out when on a diet can be extremely challenging due to all the unhealthy choices in restaurants today. Even menu items that appear harmless are loaded with calories, sugars, sodium, and fat. You really never know what you’re eating until you look at the nutritional statistics on most restaurant websites. I understand that dining out is supposed to be an enjoyable experience, free from thoughts of counting calories and reading labels. Yet, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that most restaurant meals are anything but healthy. Luckily, there are some helpful guidelines and tips to allow you to make the best choices possible. Find out what they are, and be sure to let me know if you have any suggestions too.
1. Go Online
One of the best things to do when eating out on a diet, is to check out the restaurant’s menu first. Go online, even if it’s on your mobile phone on the way, and check out the nutritional stats from the menu. Most all restaurants list these today, and most have gluten-free menus too. This will show you exactly what you can eat that won’t ruin your diet, before you even sit down with your menu.
2. Be Assertive
It’s very important to be assertive with your server when you order. You should not be rude though, as that could only backfire on you. Instead, simply be assertive. You can easily do this by looking them in the eye, and telling them how you much would appreciate it if they could make some modifications to your meal. Then tell them you want your food without any oil, butter, excess seasonings, etc. Then, thank them, and tell them how important it is your meal be prepared a certain way for your health. You're being a whole lot nicer this way, but you’re still assertive.
3. Stick with Simple
I also always advise sticking with a simple menu choice instead of a more complicated one. For instance, I usually choose a lean piece of protein, vegetables or a salad, and maybe a sweet potato on the side. I don’t go for complicated dishes that have multiple ingredients that would need changing and modifying. It’s enough that I ask for no butter, oil, excess seasoning, etc. It’s also much easier on the kitchen staff to get your order right if you keep things simple. Keeping your meals simple doesn’t mean they won’t taste good either, I promise. It just means it’s easier to ensure they’ll come to the table healthy for you, and prepared just how you asked them to be.
4. Ask for Healthy Toppings
Eating out while on a diet doesn’t mean your meals have to be bland. One thing I like to do is order a very basic meal, and ask for some healthy toppings. For example, if you’re eating out for breakfast, choose simple things like egg whites, oatmeal, and berries. Then, ask for some cinnamon, sliced almonds, or walnuts on the side to enhance your oatmeal, or perhaps some plain yogurt. I also carry stevia in my purse at all times so I always have a healthy sweetener on hand. Also, if you’re out to dinner, instead of a rich sauce, butter, or cream, feel free to ask for some plain salsa, mustard, chopped tomatoes, or even avocado to enhance your meal. These are all easy ways you can add flavor to your meals, without undoing your diet.
5. Ask for Extra Veggies
An easy way to ensure dieting success while you’re out at a restaurant is to ask for extra veggies instead of a starch like bread or fries. Great choices that will fill you up include sweet potatoes, asparagus, steamed artichokes, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, and summer squash. If you don’t like them plain, try something I love, which is a little black pepper with freshly squeezed lemon juice. I always ask for a bowl of lemon slices when I dine out for this exact purposes. It adds a huge flavor boost to your meals, and also a nice dose of Vitamin C!
6. Skip the Booze
I know it’s so easy to order a glass of wine, or perhaps an extra drink or two. Eating out seems to make people want to celebrate and let loose. While that’s not a bad thing, it’s also not a good thing for your diet most of the time. Just skip the booze and order coffee if you’re tired of plain water, sans the sugar of course. Or, order a hot tea if they have it, and ask for some lemon to sweeten it. Overall, it’s best just to drink water or unsweetened tea. Skipping the booze will help your body burn more calories from your meal, instead of asking your liver to detox it.
7. Don’t Obsess
After taking these measures, be sure you don’t stress yourself out over wondering if you made the right choice. So long as you choose baked or steamed foods instead of fried, drink your water, and eat your vegetables, there’s not much else you can do besides the above options. If you have a gluten intolerance, you need to be sure to tell your server immediately before you order. The same goes with dairy or soy. It’s important to tell your server these things so they can make sure your meals will not make you sick. Other than that, try not to obsess too much about your meal. It takes away from the experience of dining out, which should be a pleasurable one.
Overall, I suggest eating out at a maximum of once a week. I know that might sound extreme, but it’s much easier to prepare healthy meals in your home than when eating out. Do you have any tips for eating out when on a diet?