Eating out is part of life; whether for social or practical purposes, there are times when going to a restaurant is necessary. If you are trying to stick to a sensible eating plan, dining out poses some challenges that can have some risk of sabotaging your diet.
Some ways to stay committed and eat healthy when out include:
Fill up on salad. Make a point to eat a plate of salad or greens before ordering or before you get your meal. This roughage and fiber can help make you feel full, which can prevent overeating when dining out.
Go ahead and get the soup. There is something very satisfying about a bowl of hot broth or consommé; many clear soups have very few calories, too. Or, go with a bowl of the house soup instead of looking at the menu to prevent temptation.
Order an appetizer instead. Enjoy salad, soup, and an appetizer instead of a heavy entrée. This will also provide you with the chance to sample several things and experience various plates in lieu of eating a heavy, multi-course meal.
Opt for small plates. Many contemporary restaurants offer small plates instead of traditional fare. This is usually a small serving of something sumptuous, which offers diners the chance to try several different offerings at one meal. This is also a great way to avoid huge portions, which can derail your diet!
Enjoy getting there. If weather permits, take the opportunity to walk and enjoy getting to the restaurant or eatery. Spend some time window-shopping before you dine to get a few more steps in before eating.
Finish your meal with something sweet. Treat yourself after the meal with something sweet, but make it something less heavy and fattening. For example, try the fruit plate or a dish of sorbet to top off your dinner. Or, imbibe in something like a glass of sweet port or an aperitif and coffee to quell your cravings.
Don't dine alone. Avoid dining alone if possible; if going out by yourself, ask a coworker or call a friend to meet you. Conversing with others during the meal is also a great tactic for eating less when dining out. Engage, interact, and enjoy your meal—even if it is just a salad or a vegetable dish!
Focus on the overall experience. Think about dining out as an experience that extends beyond food. Appreciate the peace and tranquility of eating out, listen to the music, enjoy the soothing lighting, and interact with the server. These components can make a bigger impact than the actual meal in some instances, so focus on all of these elements to enhance even the simplest meal.
It is easy to overindulge and derail a diet when dining out. Use these tips to enjoy the experience and feel satisfied, while still sticking to your healthy eating goals. Go ahead, eat out—but be practical and sensible to feel good about it later on!