Don’t let a meal out derail your success
You’ve hit the gym four times this week and are feeling great about it. In fact, you’ve been sticking to your fitness and exercise routine like a champ. But can you undo all that hard work by making poor choices when it’s time to eat out in a restaurant?
Yes and no.
Making the wrong food choices on a regular basis can derail the progress made while exercising, or at least stop you from achieving the next level especially if weight loss is a key goal. The good news is that with a little restaurant ordering savvy and insider info, you can have your cake and eat it, too. Ok, maybe just a bite or two, but you get the idea. The following are tips for making healthier food choices when it comes to restaurant dinning:
1. Plan ahead – If you know you’ll be eating out that night, be sure to go easy during breakfast and lunch. Avoid or reduce carbs, opt for things like yogurt, salads, raw veggies and hummus, nuts, lean meats, etc.
2. Choose wisely – Choose a restaurant that offers a variety of foods like lean, grilled meats or fish, creative salads and colourful vegetables. If dessert is your thing, opt for places that offer quality over quantity. A little bit of a decadent dessert made from quality ingredients will go a long way without upsetting the apple cart.
3. Ordering savvy – Learn the lingo. Crispy means fried. Smothered in sauce or cheese means a lot of calories in the form of sauces that will top whatever you’re eating. If you love sauces, ask for them on the side and dip your food rather than coating the entire dish.
4. Substitute – It’s okay to swap a high calorie food item that may come standard with a meal for one that’s healthier and lower in calories. Opt for a side salad instead of fries. Choose salsa, mustards or ketchup instead of mayonnaise. Vinaigrette dressings instead of creamy ones. These foods will still taste delicious but they’ll be a lot easier on your waistline. And don’t make the rookie mistake of filling up on bread while waiting for your meal to arrive.
5. Portion, portion, portion! – Regardless of if you’re eating in a restaurant or at home, portion control is crucial to success. When eating out, do enjoy the food but watch how much you eat. A little trick used by many a successful but svelte restaurant goer is asking for a to-go box before your meal even arrives. Then put half of the meal into the box before you dig in. Take your time while eating. Sip water between bites, talk with your companions. Research shows that it takes an average 20 minutes for the brain to recognize that your stomach is full (it’s reacting to chemicals which are released when we consume food or beverages.) Our “fullness” levels continue to rise for another 10 – 30 mins. after we’re done eating, which explains that overfull feeling many people can get when they don’t stop eating soon enough. And, bonus, you have lunch or dinner for the next day in your to-go box!