If you need a helping hand when dining out, you’re not alone. Today I am going to share some dining out tips and tricks I’ve learned, and used, over the years. These tips & tricks have helped me and a lot of my clients. They’re simple things to implement that will help you drop some lbs. without putting forth much effort.
Dining Out While Hungry
Let’s talk a little about prevention. Never, ever go to a restaurant if you’re “starving”. You’ll be setting yourself up for disaster! I’ve used 2 tricks that have helped me either steer clear of the bread/chip basket or not stuff myself and feel miserable later.
The first dining out tip and trick that has helped me survive is to eat a little snack about 30 min before planning on eating. I’m not saying eat a mini meal. It isn’t a huge snack to keep you from eating dinner, but something to take the edge off. We all know how long waits can be, and also how long it can take to get the meal to the table. So, to keep from being ravenous when you get your meal, have a little snack before.
The tip next up is to drink water before leaving home, and you can also ask for a glass when you arrive at the restaurant (the bar is a great place to do this). First of all, hunger can be a signal of dehydration. So, you may think you’re hungry, when actually all you need is hydration.
Portion Sizes and Dining Out
One thing that can get you in trouble quicker than anything else when you’re dining out is the portion sizes of the meals. So, if you want to help out your waistline I have a couple of great tips for you.
My first tip is to order from the kid’s menu or the appetizer menu. First of all, most adult meals are waaaay over portioned, as are the kid’s meals. I’ve been astounded how much food comes on the plate when my daughters get their meals. BTW, my oldest (17 year old) STILL orders from the kid’s menu. So, don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself when you do this.
Appetizers can be a tricky thing to order. Hello Blooming Onion, one of the highest calorie menu items!!! Thankfully, a lot of restaurants are placing the calorie count on the menus now. So, make sure you pay attention to it.
The second tip I want to share pertaining to portion sizes is for you to ask for ½ of your meal to be boxed before it’s brought to the table. Another option is to ask a box to be brought out with your meal. I’ve already told you portion sizes are oversized and this can keep you from eating too much.
I know I grew up under the concept of “clean your plate” because “there are starving children around the world.” Well, I’m telling you, you Don’t have to clean your plate. It’s quite alright to leave a little bit if you wish. Plus, when you have ½ already sitting in a box, you are not likely to open that box and eat what you planned to take home.
Terms to Watch for When Dining Out
There are some key terms that spell T.R.O.U.B.L.E when you’re deciding what to eat at a restaurant. The following are some you want to steer clear of. These terms basically mean a lot, I mean a lot, of unnecessary fat is added to the dish. (Remember fat is calorie dense so it doesn’t take much to turn the meal into enough fuel for 2 or 3 meals!)
Yes, I know, these terms usually mean whatever the food is it’s going to be mighty tasty and probably something you crave. But I promise you, you can get foods just as delicious without all the added fat and calories.
- Au gratin
- Refried, etc
How to Order When Dining Out
There are some terms you can usually consider “safe” terms when dining out. These terms include:
- Dry Grill
Most of these cooking methods are cooked with little to no oil, but to make sure, you can always ask for no oil to be used and served on the side if you feel you really need it.
SIDE NOTE: I do know a lot of restaurants steam, grill, broil & bake without fat and then baste it on before being served. So, make sure you ask them to skip this step if you’re wanting to cut back & make it easier to lose weight.
BONUS Dining Out Tips & Tricks:
Now that I’ve given you a few dining out tips and tricks, and why to use them, I want to give you a few bonus tips and tricks.
- Request your sauces/condiments on the side. Most of the time the restaurant will overdo these & the calories add up quickly.
- Use oil & vinegar for your dressing (more vinegar than oil) & salad toppings on the side. When you request oil & vinegar & salad toppings on the side, you can control how much you put on your salad. Feel free to use plenty of vinegar if you want, or even try squeezing some lemon or lime juice to switch it up.
- Add flavor to your veg with salsa or lemon juice. As I said earlier, most restaurants will baste veggies with butter (some dunk it in butter). So, a safer bet is to ask for your steamed veggies to be served with a side of salsa or lemon juice. Trust me, this adds more flavor than you’d think
We know restaurant portion sizes are too large. So, you need to be aware when you are dining out. You can, however, set yourself up for success before you even arrive at the restaurant by having a small snack and/or water.
Once you get to the restaurant, pay attention to the calories listed (if it’s available) and use the “safe” terms when choosing your meal. Also, consider getting a to-go box Before you begin eating so you aren’t tempted to overeat those already large portions. Or, you can opt for smaller portions by ordering from the kid’s or appetizer menu.
If you need help when it comes to your weight loss or you need accountability to help you reach your goals, set up a Free Weight Loss Strategy Session HERE and we can chat about your plans and goals.