Drop 5 lbs: Aarti Sequeira's Healthy Restaurant Eating Guide
When dining out, scope it out. Check out the restaurant’s menu on its website in advance, and scope out tasty dishes that won't get you off track. Often, you can even look up the nutritional information for each dish on the menu. This way you’ll be able to make smart, informed choices before you arrive at the restaurant, and you won’t fall victim to impulsive, unhealthy decisions. You’ll feel more relaxed and in control when you’re eating out, instead of feeling nervous about what healthy options might be available to you.
Start your day with protein. When dashing off to work, breakfast can be an afterthought that catches up with your waistline. Instead of grabbing the jumbo muffin, choose yogurt and fresh fruit. Another great option is an egg or egg white sandwich served on an English muffin or in a wrap. Studies show that those who eat eggs for breakfast lost more weight than bagel eaters, even though they consumed the same number of calories, and those who ate egg whites felt fuller longer from the egg whites’ protein.
Avoid the coffee carb-load. Instead of sugary mochas and coffee milkshakes (let’s call a spade a spade), choose low-calorie coffee and espresso drinks with skim milk. Order a small size, and skip the whipped cream and sugary-syrup options, which can add hundreds of calories to your morning drink.
Trim your portions to trim your waistline. Know that restaurant portions tend to be huge. Take your time between bites to slow down, chat with friends and family, or take sips of water or a calorie-free beverage. Feelings of fullness can catch up with you up to 20 minutes after you’ve finished eating, so pace yourself!
Don’t go hungry! Don’t skip meals throughout the day leading up to a night out at a restaurant. In fact, restricting your diet will trick your body into a starvation-like state, which will slow down your metabolism and cause your body to store fat.
Go natural. Restaurant food can be heavy on the calories. Look for foods in their natural states, like beans, fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Also, when you can, choose restaurants that pride themselves on fresh high-quality produce – these restaurants generally need to add fewer high-calorie ingredients to make their food shine.
Give in to temptation! Well, every once in a while. Repeatedly cutting out your favorite foods could result in a binge later. Balance your splurges with other healthier options, for example: If French fries are your weakness, order a healthy entrée of steamed or grilled fish and vegetables, and split a side order of French fries with a friend.
Follow Aarti’s party pointers. Never go to a party hungry – you’ll be setting yourself up for calorie overload! Eating some lean protein before the party, like low-fat yogurt, chicken, turkey or water-packed tuna, is a great way to help prevent overeating. When you arrive at the party, pick three to five favorite dishes, and pile your plate with only those options – and don’t go back for more.
Beware the generous bartender. Decide how many calories you’re willing to spend on alcoholic beverages before you go out. Note that bartenders often pour more than what is recommended as a serving. For example, a glass of wine should be 5 ounces and 120 calories, but bartenders often pour 10 ounce glasses, bringing the total to almost 250 calories. You can become more familiar with measurements and serving sizes by experimenting with a measuring cup at home. Try to order cocktails mixed with club soda and flavored with real fruit instead of sugary mixers like cola or margarita mix.
Cut out the cocktails. If you can, why not cut out the alcohol all together? Most restaurants offer a wide variety of calorie-free beverages, such as unsweetened iced tea, coffee, club soda, or even water, which gets zip from a slice of lemon. You’ll be trimming not only your waistline, but also your bill! Alcoholic beverages are often full of calories. To make matters worse, they don’t fill you up, lack nutritional value and also lower your inhibitions, making overeating more likely.