Tips for Dining Out

Life comes all sorts of fun events; baseball games, picnics, pool parties. And of course HOLIDAYS!   With all the excitement it can be easy to lose control of your healthy eating habits. Recently I went to a party and was surrounded by pizza, hotdogs, and an assortment of various dipping sauces for potato chips. Even though I try to eat as fresh and organic as possible, at times it can be difficult and all these parties don’t make it easy. So, the next time you’re bombarded with sugary, fat laden options at an event or a public restaurant here are some tips to keep your stress level to a minimum and your healthy eating habits in check!

Tips adapted from Tosca Reno's Stripped book:

what to order
what to order

Being a Mom, I’ve learned how important it is to plan ahead and how crucial a backup plan is. The same thing goes when eating out; be prepared for roadblocks (menu options) and have a game plan. If you can, try cooking at home as MUCH as possible. This way you know exactly what you’re putting in your body and you won’t surrender control over what is in your food. If you MUST go out:

1. Develop a “healthy” Mindset. Before dining at a restaurant, convince yourself that you don't have to get the most out of your money by cleaning your plate. Don’t throw all your hard work away for 1 meal!

2. Listen to your body- No gorging! By all means, savor your food. Enjoy each bite! But, eat for the purpose of satisfying your hunger, no more. Listen to what your body (not your mind) is telling you and remember to keep your goal in mind!

3. Hold the bread, please! Remember this is not helping you achieve your weight loss goal.

4. Start green. Start your meal with a house salad, but have them hold the dressing. Instead, spritz your leafy greens with some lemon or ask for some balsamic vinegar.

5. Become a broth brat. No salad options on the menu? To curb your hunger so you’re not ravenous by the time your entree shows up try a broth-based soup.

6. Check for Clean Cooking. Look for entree options featuring grilled, baked, or roasted meats or fish and steamed or raw veggies. If they aren't listed on the menu, ask the server to prepare it that way.

7. Score an A+ in portion control. Look at your plate when it arrives. Typically restaurants give you twice the amount of a normal portion. Ask for a doggie bag and split your meal in half. I guarantee you won’t miss it!

8. “Fletcherize.” The practice of chewing each mouthful a minimum of 25 times. It gives your body a chance to recognize when you are becoming full.

9. Zero Tolerance. You want to avoid alcohol because sugar can derail you in the most powerful way. Have sparkling water with lemon or lime slices.

10. Stop before the end. Think of your plan to shed those pounds, if you can't resist something sweet ask for a dish of fresh fruit and leave it at that!

If you doubt your ability to resist restaurant offerings then pre-eat a healthy snack or meal. Now when you go to a restaurant or social event you don't have to worry about what's on the menu and you can focus on socializing instead.

If you are on the road (maybe you’re coming home from a Disney trip) and you have to go to a drive through, familiarize yourself with the menu. Use your smartphone to pull up the chain’s menu and skim it over; looking for the healthiest options. Never super size and make “smart food choices” by ordering grilled chicken and a side salad- the calories will creep up on you faster than you can count to 3. For the healthiest choice, cut up the chicken and place on the salad. Go with olive oil and vinegar dressing or low fat balsamic.

One of the most difficult things to manage while following a healthy lifestyle is your social life. Be sure you’re surrounding yourself with family and friends that support what you are doing. If you’re hesitant to meet your friends at a bar or a restaurant here are some healthier alternatives:

Have a game night (Wii Fit or Wii Sports is awesome!) at home with healthy clean snacks (air popped popcorn anyone?!).

Play with the kids. Rally up the neighborhood and play capture the flag or hide-and-go-seek.

Volunteer together at the local food pantry or a charity event.

Meet at the park for a walk or bike ride (don’t forget the pooches!).

Take a Pilates or spin class with friends. The camaraderie can be contagious!

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean your doomed to become a boring person. As you change your lifestyle, change your mindset too. Be open to change and the change will chase you. Take a leap, live outside the box, and explore new activities. Pretty soon people will be asking “who’s that girl?!”

Two of my personal favorite tips are to look up the restaurant menu ahead of time online. So often the menus are designed to ENTICE us! So knowing ahead of time always keeps temptation at bay! The second tip I love is to carry around pre-printed "order" cards. Here is one for my salad, but I have some for ethnic foods, too! (I'm a sucker for Mexican!). I will get out my "list" scratch off what the restaurant doesn't have and add what they do. Then I will write down the salad dressing on the note and give it to the server to keep (that way she/he is LESS likely to write it down wrong and the kitchen is less likely to mess it up!) It gets ME exactly what I want without being one of those "pain in the butt" customers!

Dining out cards
Dining out cards