Going out to eat is one of my favorite social activities. I would be a total grouch if I had to pass up the eating out just to stay on track with my wellness goals.
This is the second part of my 2-post series on ordering in restaurants. Part I. detailed tips for ordering drinks, appetizers, and sides. This post will pick up with pointers for ordering your main dish and dessert.
For Part I.- click here
Split & splurge. If something blatantly unhealthy looks too good to pass up, split it with someone & skip the doggy bag. Treat yourself, but remember moderation is key. [see queso sticks in Part I.] When I hit the mall with my mom & sister, our go-to lunch is a split order of fries with side salads. This way we still feel indulgent, but we’re not going over the top.
Go grilled. ‘Grilled’ is my key to look for when choosing a healthier option on a menu. Avoid terms like ‘rich’, ‘creamy’, ‘crispy’, or ‘breaded’…they’re all code for fattening. This applies to sides as well! If your meal comes with French fries, most restaurants will happily sub out the fries for a side of veggies or soup/salad.
Watch out for add-ons. Those little questions that get thrown at you right after you order- “would you like that baked potato loaded? Your steak smothered?” This is where the best healthy intentions can be thrown away. Bacon, gravy, and cheese may be delicious- but may also sink your meal’s nutritional value.
Share & sample. Rather than ordering 1 dessert per person, why not order a couple for the table and have everyone sample just a bite of each?
Skip it altogether. I’m not much of a dessert eater, I’m much more of a salty/snack food fan. For me I’d rather have a cup of decaf coffee or chew a piece of gum. The dessert just isn’t that important to me, so I usually skip it. Maybe you feel this way about appetizers- choose where you want to invest your splurges on what matters most to you.
Eating in restaurants doesn’t have to demolish your weight loss goals. The most important thing to keep in mind is to splurge on what you want most, and do damage control with the rest of your choices.
One last tip: studies show that if the first person at a table to order chooses something healthy, the other diners will follow suit. Likewise, if the first diner orders a burger & fries- the rest are more likely to go for an unhealthy option. Moral of the story? Order first and up your chances of sticking to your plan!