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Tips for Good Restaurant Eatin'

Friday, March 22, 2013

I've managed to lose weight this year even while eating out in restaurants. Restaurants have always been a trouble zone for me. I've had extreme difficulty policing my intake. In the past, I've used restaurant meals as an excuse to binge. But I think I've finally mastered the ins and outs of eating out.

1. I don't eat out as a form of entertainment. In the past, when my husband and I were going to have a date, it would center around dinner. So would time spent with friends or family. Lately, I've been making different kinds of dates, whether it is walking or shopping or going to the botanical gardens (a recent date my husband and I did). The world is full of museums and shops and riverfronts. There are plenty of places to go and things to do that are not just going to a restaurant.

2. When I do eat out, I try my best to steer the choice of restaurant. I know some places are easier to eat healthfully at than others. Salads. Sushi. Soup.

3. Even when someone else chooses the place and it does not have a lot of healthy options, I'm still in control of what I eat. Almost every place offers some sort of salad.

4. I aim for the healthiest menu item but if I fall short of this aim, I still exercise portion control.

5. It is a lot easier to exercise portion control when you drink a lot of water. Sometimes I order both water and iced tea. I'll drink several glasses of both with my meal.

6. It is okay to ask for substitutions. Even if the place refuses, you've announced your goal for the meal. Example: the other day I ordered a cold vermicelli salad with veggies. I said "Can I have more veggies than noodles?" The waitress said yes but when the dish arrived, it still had tons of noodles. Yet, I ate fewer of them than I otherwise would have because I had committed at the outset of the meal to do so.

7. When possible, I look at the menu online and decide what I'm going to order in advance. This helps me stick to my guns and prevents me from being pulled off course by a yummy looking special, or seeing a delicious looking plate going to another diner.

8. Dinner is generally alcohol free. It is much easier to stay on course when you're clear thinking. Plus, you don't have to worry about the extra calories. Having a few drinks cues me to "let my hair down" -- something that ensures I'll be more lax in my food choices.

The hardest part about eating out healthfully is MAKING THE COMMITMENT TO STICK WITH YOUR GOALS. I've made excuses before about how difficult it was to eat healthy out. But when my MIND is on board, it is amazing what I can do.
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