A 6-Step Guide To Eating Out Without Pigging Out
By Nutra Active Team
Eating out is supposed to be a fun social break from our mundane routines. However, it can end up being stressful if you’re looking to maintain your health and weight.
It’s all too easy to break your healthy-eating determination when you catch a whiff of your favorite dish. Multiple studies have even linked eating out with bad food choices and overeating.
Eating out, however, doesn’t always have to mean pigging out.
Have A Plan of Attack
If you’re struggling to maintain your diet whilst eating out, the worst thing you can do is enter a restaurant unprepared. Having a plan of attack means entering the restaurant knowing the crucial details of how your night will pan out before you step into it.
Some of these details include: knowing which foods are ‘safe’ for you to eat (if they have any to begin with), potential healthy swaps you can make for specific dishes, exactly how much you’ll be ordering, and how you’ll be eating your food, among others.
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown to help you plan your healthy night out:
Step #1 – Study The Menu At Home
Pre-read the menu to have an idea of the potential foods you can eat while sticking to your diet. Many restaurants now have online menus available on their website. If they don’t have it, try exploring their Facebook page, or scour food reviews to get a glimpse of the types of food they serve there. By doing your planning before you’re hungry or distracted within the restaurant environment, you’d be more likely to make healthier choices.
Step #2 – Consider How The Foods Are Prepared
If you’re struggling to determine what to eat, a quick way to narrow down your choices is to filter the foods on how they’re being cooked. Grilled, poached, steamed or roasted make for healthier options compared to fried, pan-fried, or sautéed options. When it comes to sauces, opt for tomato-based ones as opposed to creamy ones to help cut the fat and calories from your dish. For drinks, sugar-sweetened beverages should be strictly off-limits, but you’re still good for unsweetened iced tea or plain coffee, if you prefer.
Step #3 – Any Healthy Swaps You Can Make?
You don’t want your night to end up being a miserable experience by eating foods that you don’t enjoy. If you’re eyeing a specific dish that is not particularly good for you, consider making healthy tweaks to it.
If you’re ordering a steak, for example, ask for the sauces to be served separately and in a reduced quantity so that you can control your intake better.
If your dish comes with a mountain of fries, ask if they could change it to a healthy serving of vegetables. Spinach and broccoli are both options you can consistently rely on with their fiber- and vitamin C-rich content, while still remaining low in calories. (Sneak a fry or two from your companion’s plate if your craving is impossible to resist!)
Step #4 – Fill Your Belly Before The Main Course
The key to controlling your temptations while eating out is ensuring you don’t enter the restaurant too hungry. Having a healthy, high-protein snack such as yogurt before you leave the house can help to satiate your appetite and prevent overeating.
If you don’t have the chance to pre-eat before heading to the restaurant, be sure to start your night with either a salad or soup. Having these light dishes to start your meal can help prevent excess eating.
Alternatively, even drinking water half an hour before your meal can help you consume fewer calories and lose weight.
Step #5 – Be The First One To Order Your Meal
The pressures of a social environment can unknowingly affect not just what you eat, but also your eating behaviors. If you know you’d be one of the few who will be eating healthy in the group, have a firm resolve to place your order first, before you have any second thoughts!
Step #6 – Master How You Eat
By the time your food arrives, you should already be nicely satiated from the previous foods you ate during the earlier part of the day.
This helps you practice mindful eating, which entails giving the process of eating the full attention it deserves. Many people simply chow down mindlessly on their meals, not taking the time to truly savor their foods. How many times have you been guilty of eating junk food in front of the TV, only to later realize that half the bag is gone?
Mindful eating can not only increase your appreciation for food, but also improve your self-control and help you make better food choices.
As a rule of thumb for mindful eating, do not take a second bite if there is still food in your mouth. Ensure you’ve fully chewed and swallowed the food before taking a new bite.
While it might seem like a lot of work, do know that this can get easier with experience. If you frequent the same restaurants regularly, you’d only have to ‘scout’ them thoroughly once – after which you’d already have the information you need for a healthy meal out the next time you choose to visit them! Couple that with the habit of certain eating practices as mentioned above, and you’d have all you need to make eating out a rewarding experience, both socially and for your health.