Be Smart When Eating Out

Valentine's Day is almost here and you've made a date with that special someone.  Going out to a restaurant is a great way to spend quality time with your sweetheart but can quickly be a detriment to your weight loss regime.  Prepare yourself against the food temptation with some tips for you to eat out smartly and keep your waistline intact.

1.  Do your homework before you go out.  Most restaurants have menu information online, outside of the restaurant or on to-go menus.  Plan out your meal BEFORE going out and on a full stomach. 
a. Be sure to look at their healthful options, find out which of the sides you can substitute for veggies and opt for entrees without heavy creams or sauces.   
b. Since this is a special occasion, you may decide to splurge on a dessert.  Choosing a lighter meal and/or skip the appetizer will help maintain your waistline. 
c. Consider planning out your meals that day and budget your calories for the big meal at the restaurant.

2. Think small portions.  Everyone knows that you get more than enough food at any restaurant regardless of what you order.  Appetizers are big enough to be an entrée and one entree can feed a small family. Although you feel like these portions offer you a value, they are jeopardizing your health with the threat of overeating.  Prevent overeating by taking the preemptive approach:
a. Order a veggie-laden appetizer and share it with the entire table.
b.  If you order salad, ask for the dressing on the side.  Choose low-calorie dressings like vinaigrettes or simple oil and vinegar.
c. Ask for a box as you order your entrée. When the meal comes to the table, leave what you feel is an ample portion on your plate and box the rest.

3. Order drinks wisely. Drinks, particularly alcoholic ones, are infamous for their "hidden calories" because most people won't think twice about the staggering amount of calories per drink and will have several. 
a. The ideal choice is to drink non-caloric beverages.  Water, sparkling water, and unsweetened tea (iced and hot) are good choices to consider.
b. If you prefer an alcoholic beverage, consider one (8oz) light beer or wine that usually ranges from 80-120 calories. 
c. If the idea of drinking light beer or wine makes you want to cringe, budget your meal to include a beverage.  Be careful with mixed drinks as they can easily add up to 300+ calories for just one.

4. Sharing is caring. This is what sitting down at a meal with loved ones is supposed to be about: talking, spending quality time with each other and enjoying the moment together.  Expand on this principle by sharing all aspects of meal experience.
a. Share an entrée with someone even if there's a split plate fee.
b. Ask for 2 straws and share a beverage such as a lemonade or soda.
c. Be a sweet to your sweetheart and split a dessert.
Special occasions shouldn't be a detriment to your health goals.  Use these tips to help you stay on track and prevent overeating. 

If you like these tips, learn these and more by enrolling in 2-Get-Fit, 2BWell's weight loss and support program.  Get the tools you need to lose weight and get healthy through our comprehensive approach to weight loss.  The basic package includes: 6 weight loss classes, (1) 30-minute private nutrition consultation and (1) massage or acupuncture session. 

by Catalina Vlad, MS, RD, LD