Dining out has fast become part of our culture. From the fast food restaurants and sandwich bars that allow us to grab food on the go, to informal restaurants where we can spend a relaxing lunch hour or evening dining with family and friends. I love to eat out; good food and good company make for a great social occasion. Much as I enjoy cooking at home for my family, it’s a lovely treat to go out and have my food prepared for me and then walk away at the end of the evening and leave the washing up behind!
But dining out on a regular basis and trying to lose weight can be extremely challenging. Whereas we can easily control the quality of the ingredients we use to cook at home, the same can’t be said when we eat out. We have no control over portion sizes or the amount of sugar, fat and salt added our food. This doesn’t mean we have to curtail our social life though. With a little planning and forethought you can ensure that your enjoyment of dining out doesn’t come at the expense of your health or waistline!
1. If possible, take a look at the menu before you go out. This will give you time to decide in advance what you will eat
2. Have a small bowl of salad or a light soup before you go out. If you arrive at the restaurant feeling ravenous you are less likely to make healthy choice
3. Say no to the breadbasket. Over-doing it with bread at the start of your meal is sure way to add an inch or two to your waist or hips! Opt for some crudites with a salsa dip instead
4. Ask for any dressings or sauces ‘on the side’. This way you can control the amount you eat. Another useful tip is to dip your fork into the dressing/sauce first and then into your food
5. Avoid anything fried. Hydrogenated oils or trans fats are often used for frying food in restaurants.
6. If you know the restaurant you are going to serves large portions, choose a starter as your main course
7. Don’t be afraid to leave food on your plate. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to eat it!
8. ‘All you can eat’ buffets are an open invitation to over indulge. Take a good look at the food options before putting items on your plate and remind yourself that you are eating to feel satisfied not get your moneys worth
9. Don’t be afraid to ask for healthy substitutions. For example, ask the waiter for your chicken or fish to be grilled rather than fried. Swap fries for an extra portion of veggies
10. By all means enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with your meal but restrict yourself to one or two alcoholic drinks and ask for a jug of water for the table
If you have any other tips for eating out I’d love to hear what they are – please leave a comment.