Smart Strategies for Dining Out

Posted on by Ami Spencer

When you’re trying to lose weight, or are concerned about your diet, having dinner at a restaurant can seem like a major challenge—to your willpower and your waistline. But it doesn’t have to be. With a few small changes in your behavior, you can easily enjoy lunch with co-workers or dinner out with your family without sabotaging your healthier lifestyle. Here are a few strategies for a less stressful, more successful, restaurant experience:

  • Know where you’re going and what they offer before you walk out the door. If possible, check the restaurant’s website and decide what you’ll have before you go. You’ll be less tempted to order on impulse if you’ve carefully chosen your meal before you sit down at the table.
  • Drink your water. What you think is hunger may really be thirst, so drinking that water will help you to calm your growling stomach and think clearly about what and how much
  • Keep the bread at bay. Ask the server to remove the bread basket from the table immediately, or as soon as everyone else has taken their serving. If do you choose to have bread or a roll, eat it plain or with a bit of jelly instead of butter.
  • Limit your alcohol and soda intake. If you must drink something other than water with dinner, try a diet soda or a wine spritzer. Save the extra calories for your meal instead.
  • Avoid dishes with au gratin, alfredo, creamy, rich, buttery, fried, or breaded in the name or description. Instead, choose grilled, broiled, roasted, poached, or baked options.
  • Order dressings, sauces and gravies on the side. This will allow you to determine how much is enough. Dip your fork into the sauce before spearing a bite. This adds just enough flavor without adding a lot of calories.
  • Ask your server to bring a to-go box with your meal and put away half your entrée before you start eating. You’ll be able to clean your plate without worrying about portion control, and you’ll have lunch for tomorrow, too.
  • Eat slowly and taste every bite. Enjoy what you’re eating and put your fork down between bites. You’ll feel full faster and you’ll be more satisfied with your meal.
  • Be social. Use the time to join in conversation and connect with the people you’re with.

By preparing yourself, you’ll take the stress out of dining out and will be able to relax and enjoy your friends and family. And before you know it, you’ll be making healthy choices and substitutions without even thinking about it.

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