How to Choose Foods When Eating Out

Some of us eat out because it is convenient. For single people, people with hectic schedules and people who travel a lot, eating out can be more the norm than the exception. But while eating out can seem like a convenient and innocent decision, if you’re trying to lose weight it can be a real problem.

We eat out because the food is tasty and different than what we eat at home and it’s a treat. But oftentimes the reason restaurant foods taste good is because it’s laden with sugars, fats and oils, salt and other preservatives.

If you’re someone who eats out often because you like or need to, don’t despair. There are a few guidelines you can follow when eating that will help you have a pleasant dining experience while staying on track with your weight loss goals.

Learn about your body’s caloric needs.

Identifying how many calories you should be intaking daily will help you determine your portion sizes and what foods are better for you. Look for foods that are tasty but lower in calories. Also, there is an increasing number of restaurants that provide “healthier” menus. Some chain restaurants that have adopted this approach include Applebee’s, Olive Garden and Ruby Tuesdays. Once you’ve found a few restaurants in your area, puruse the menus for healthier options that tickle your tastebuds. See this article on for a list of 5 healthy chain restaurant meals.

Ask for healthier substitutes.

Even in restaurants that don’t cater to your needs you can ask for healthier substitutes. Here’s a few easy ways to make your restaurant meal a little less calorie-laden:

  • Skip the bread basket.
  • Ask for sauces and dressings to be served on the side and use sparingly, just enough to flavor your food.
  • Request salsa or mustard as a substitute for oil or mayonnaise.
  • Try to choose steam, boiled or grilled foods instead of fried.
  • When you have the option, choose vegetable dishes instead of French fries or other starchy foods.
  • Ask for milk instead of cream for your coffee.
  • Choose “small” or “medium” portions when given the option.
  • Consider splitting a dish with a friend.
  • When your food is delivered, ask for half of it to be boxed up to go right away.
  • Order items with leaner meats and with more vegetables.
  • Avoid salt-laden foods.
  • Avoid buffets, even seemingly healthy ones like salad bars to avoid the temptation to overeat in order to “get your money’s worth.”
  • Skip dessert or choose a healthier alternative like fruit or sorbet.

Above all else, be assertive.

If you’re watching your weight or trying to maintain a healthy diet, eating out is no time to be meek. Be an assertive consumer and assume the restaurant has what you need. In most cases they will accomodate.

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