What is it about going out to eat that makes a meal so much more fun? Don’t get me wrong here, I love cooking. I also love getting a little more dressed up and being waited on (who doesn’t?).
Going out to eat can certainly be an obstacle when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, I firmly believe that avoiding dining out is not a solution. Life is too short to skip dinner with friends for fear of ‘getting fat.’
…and to be frank, the things being created in restaurant kitchens are too mind blowing to not taste. Do you see that picture below? Those are queso sticks; Mexican queso cheese and peppers breaded in crushed tortilla chips and served with a chipotle sour cream dipping sauce. I mean come on, that’s just out of this world.
The key to having a social life and staying on track with your wellness goals lies in the smallest details of the choices you make while ordering.
Skip the soda. People that drink soda with their meal eat hundreds more calories than water drinkers. Not only is soda full of empty calories, but our body doesn’t recognize liquid calories the same way we recognize food calories. Calories we drink really don’t help with feeling full or satisfied.
Say no to diet soda, too. I wrote a post about the reasons to avoid diet soda, from the viewpoint of my formerly diet-soda-addicted self. Ordering a diet soda may save calories compared to regular soda, but in the long term is linked to more weight gain…not to mention crazy unnatural chemicals!
Limit alcohol. I’m not against adults enjoying a glass of wine with a meal, but imbibe wisely. Alcohol spikes blood sugar, which leads to an inevitable crash. A blood sugar crash paired with lowered inhibitions = poor meal choices.
APPETIZERS & SIDES
Avoid fried sampler platters. There is no good that can come from a trough of fried snacks. Unless you’re splitting it with a large table of people, odds are you’ll seriously damage your plans to stay on track.
Opt for broth based soups. Soup can be a great starter to fill you up so you don’t overindulge when your meal comes. Choose clear broth based soups like minestrone over heavy options like broccoli cheddar or chowders.
Go for vinaigrette salad dressings. If you’re more of a side salad person, choosing an Italian or vinaigrette dressing will save you hundreds of calories over rich dressings like ranch, thousand island, or caesar. It’s always a good idea to get dressings on the side, too!
Step away from the bread basket. I’d recommend not even having it brought to the table, if that’s an option. It’s easy to munch on a whole meal’s worth of calories when mindlessly nibbling on bread. Save yourself for the main dish- what you REALLY want!
Want more info about eating in restaurants without ruining your eating plan? Tune in for Part II coming soon– tips for the main course and desserts, along with additional restaurant pointers.