Stop Overeating When You Eat Out
Guest Post by Marcela De Vivo
Dieting can be difficult even when you’re preparing your own meals. Counting calories and cutting out your favorite, unhealthy foods is more than enough for most people to focus on.
However, eating out at restaurants can make dieting even more challenging. When you order for a restaurant you often can’t control how the food is prepared or how many calories it contains. Oftentimes even healthier options like salads are loaded with extra calories.
That doesn’t mean you have to give up going out and put all of your social engagements on the back-burner until you reach your ideal weight. Eating healthy and eating out don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but it could take a little bit of work and planning on your part.
Before Your Meal
Many restaurants offer free bread, chips and salsa, or some other type of free appetizer for guests that are waiting on their order. Unfortunately, eating these things add unnecessary calories to your meal / which is going to arrive in just a few minutes anyway.
Try to resist the free appetizers, even if you’re hungry. Order a glass of water or chew a piece of gum. More than likely, you can make it another 10 or 15 minutes without food.
Skip the Alcohol
Skip the wine and cocktails to avoid empty calories. Image Courtesy of Flickr
Having a glass of wine with dinner once in awhile is actually good for you, but having one with each meal can really add empty calories to your total intake. The calorie count in mixed drinks is even higher because of the alcohol content.
Instead of alcohol, try having a simple glass of water or unsweetened beverage like mineral water or tea with your meal.
Be a Conscious Eater
Restaurants can pile food on plates, give you free bread and offer desserts throughout your whole visit, but overeating really falls on you. It can be hard to avoid these temptations, but changing the way you eat, or at least considering it, can help you make healthy decisions at mealtime.
- Be the last to pick up your fork. By getting a late start on your meal, you’ll be likely to eat less.
- Eat slowly. Take a bit of food, then have a sip of water or talk to somebody that you’re with. There’s no rush to finish your food, and eating too fast can cause you to overeat.
- Count your bites. It can be hard to know exactly how many calories and how much fat you’re eating in a restaurant, but simply being aware of how many bites you’ve taken can help you to know when you should put the fork down and pack the rest of your food up for later.
Fighting Oversized Portions
Smaller portion sizes like this one seem to be going the way of the dodo in many restaurants. Image Courtesy of Fotopedia
Despite growing obesity rates in the United States, it seems like portion sizes in restaurants seem to get bigger and bigger each year. While you can’t control how much food a restaurant puts on your plate, you are in control of how much you eat. Follow these basic tips to help you win the fight against oversized portions.
- See if the menu has a section of healthier and lighter meal options. Sometimes this section will be hidden on the back or on a flap, so be sure to check!
- Split your meal with somebody else. In many restaurants, one entrée is enough to feed two people. If it’s not quite enough for two, you can always order a healthy salad or low-calorie soup to go with you split entrée.
- Divide your meal into two portions. Splitting meals works, but if you’re dining alone or simply have different food tastes, sharing may not be an option. Instead, divide your food into two meals on your plate and only eat half. Save the rest for lunch or dinner the next day.
If you really want to avoid temptation, ask your waiter to bring a to-go box as soon as you get your meal so you can get it off your plate entirely.
- Ruin your leftovers. If you’re the type to pick at the food on your plate even once you’re full, prevent yourself from eating more by sprinkling the food with salt, pepper, or hot sauce so it’s no longer so tasty and enticing. Though my mother always chided me for wasting food, this last-minute trick can really help your waistline!
Marcela De Vivo is an accomplished freelance writer in the Los Angeles area. She has written on everything from marketing, real estate, technology, as well as a variety of health & wellnesstopics.