Let’s first start by setting the record straight…
YOU CAN EAT OUT AND STILL EAT HEALTHY.
For the most part, I can eat at any restaurant and still create a perfectly healthy meal…
In fact, in this blog post, I’m going to teach you how to STOP the thousand calorie dining experiences and start decoding menus like a pro =)
The first problem with dining out, is that you are usually starving by the time you sit down to eat.
Most dinners don’t happen until late into the evening… and even with a reservation – restaurants can get so crowded that you ending up waiting an hour after you’ve arrived before you finally get to eat.
This means that if you know you’re going to dinner at say 7pm, then you shouldn’t be skipping your 4pm meal in order to save calories.
Seriously, this one is big no no… do not make the mistake of skipping meals to save calories for one massive dinner binge.
And I don’t want you to do this for a couple reasons, the first is that this mentality leads to an unhealthy relationship with food.
It encourages the vicious cycle of deprivation and binge eating and throws your mind into a not-so-good place.
Secondly, while mathematically you might end up with the same amount of food if you starve yourself before dinner, our bodies are not calculators. Eating 300 calories at 4:30 and 300 calories at 7pm will be digested very differently than eating all 600 calories at once.
There is a limit to how much food, especially protein, our bodies can digest and use at one period of time… and do you know what happens to the extra calories?
Well, the left overs get stored as fat for later use.
And that’s the first reason why eating out is considered unhealthy… because people commonly binge eat 2-3 meals worth of calories all in one sitting.
The next thing that kills our diet at restaurants is usually placed right in the middle of the table.
That’s right that big basket of empty, nutritionally void refined carbohydrates.
The bread basket is a quick way to add a couple hundred extra calories to your meal before you even get to the first course.
Ordering a dinner that won’t break the calorie bank is already hard enough, so don’t make it impossible by filling up on empty carbs as soon as you sit down at the table.
Next up on the list of unhealthy reasons is oversized portions.
The amount of food included in any single entree order is usually absurd. For someone like us bitesized babes, most restaurant dishes are closer in size to 2-3 meals worth of food rather than a single sitting.
For example, average pasta dish is easily over 3 cups worth, when you’d typically only be eating about 1/2 a cup per meal… a meat serving is probably around 8oz, when you usually eat 3 to 4 ouces…. and don’t even get me started on dessert, those bad boys are at least a thousand calories and double the entire day’s worth of sugar!
Now onto alcohol…
Most social dinners contain large amounts of alcohol… and in some cases, it’s this habit of drinking your calories that gets you into trouble with the scale.
If you’re ordering wine by the bottle, as opposed to by the glass, then your server has no reason to pour the recommended 4-5 oz serving size. Instead, expect to get double that per glass.
In the event that you down this double glass, and one more.. then you’ll also run into the issue of feeling pretty groggy the next day, which usually also means skipping the gym or a sub-par workout.
Alright, time for a recap, the big things that can make dining out unhealthy are:
- Skipping meals to save calories
- Eating a empty refined carbs before the meal even starts
- Mistakenly eating your entire meal, which is really the size of 2 or 3 portions
- Drinking too much alcohol
But while these things can make dining out unhealthy, that’s certainly not the full story. In fact, I can tell you how to overcome each of the above unhealthy food traps right now!
For example.. to avoid overeating… Do Not Starve Yourself Beforehand.
Instead, get in the habit of having a small snack about 1-2 hours before your resturant reservation.
To avoid wasting hundreds of calories on empty carbs, don’t touch the bread basket
If you haven’t developed the will power to avoid eating fresh rolls, then when your server comes to the table, kindly let him know you won’t be needing any bread today.
If you find that you’re sitting at the table, dying for something to eat.. then order a house salad with balsamic vinegar instead.
In fact, I pretty much always like to order a salad as an appetizer because it’ll help fill you up prior to your main course and take the edge off your hunger.
When dinner comes, you should always assess your plate before you start eating.
In most situations, you’ll be able to divide your plate into at least 2 meals. I’ll separate my food into two portions and move it to the side.
This way even if I do love what I ordered, I don’t just keep eating to satisfy my emotions as opposed to my stomach.
Also, the thrifty part of me now gets pretty excited because I’ve officially got a free lunch the next day.
I hate waiting food, so if it’s on my plate.. I have a tough time not eating it. That’s also one of the reasons I prefer to order appetizers and desserts for the table as opposed to individually whenever possible.
By doing this, you and everyone else will be able to have a taste of some unique menu items, but still be able to walk out of the restaurant with your pants buttoned.
And finally, if alcohol is getting you in trouble.. then skip the bottle and order by the glass.
When you order by the glass, you’re more likely to get a true 4 or 5 oz serving.
That’s because one bottle of wine contains about 25 ounces, so by pouring less per glass, restaurants can make money off an extra glass or two.
For those of you who are white wine drinkers, you can also order sparkling water, and use that to make a white wine spritzer that will last throughout your entire meal.
Alright, well that was already a bunch of really good strategies for making your next meal a much healthier experience, but if you’ve got any other favorites… let us know!