Dining out when watching how much you eat can be hard. Restaurant portion sizes have gotten increasingly larger and it has gotten harder to control your fat and calorie intake. Follow these few simple tips next time you dine out to help make restaurants fit into your healthy lifestyle.
1. Look for healthy menu descriptors. Choose grilled, baked, broiled, or steamed over fried, breaded, saucy, or cheesy. Don’t be afraid to ask for you meal to be prepared as low-fat or low-sodium.
2. Start off your meal with a broth-based soup. With less calories and fat than cream based soup and high in water content, a broth-based soup will fill you up with less calories. This light and filling appetizer will help prevent you from consuming your whole entree.
3. Undress your salads. Many may think a salad is a healthy option, but when loaded up with meat, eggs, cheese, and full-fat dressing, it can pack in more calories than you think! Aim for more veggies and a low-fat or fat-free dressing.
4. Remember portion sizes. A serving of meat (3oz) is comparable to a deck of cards. A serving of vegetables or fruit is comparable to a tennis ball. Use the USDA’s MyPlate as a guide – 1/2 fruits and veggies, 1/4 lean protein, 1/4 starch.
5. Share your food, or pack half to-go. Share your food with a friend or order a to-go box with your meal. Restricting yourself to half of the plate will prevent you from overeating.
6. Eat mindfully. Slow down your pace of eating and pay attention to your internal hunger cues. Avoid distractions that may cause you to ignore your body’s fullness messages.
If you have time, check out the restaurant’s menu before heading out to eat. Decide what you are going to get to eat and stick with it!