People are spending increasingly more money and consuming more calories by eating out than ever before. According to the The US Department of Agriculture, we eat 29% of our meals outside of our homes. Also, the National Restaurant Association says that these meals make up for 44% of our food budgets and that number could grow up to 53% in the next couple of years.
This means eating out is about to become a bigger and bigger dieting challenge, as sticking to a healthy meal away from home is hard for numerous reasons. So how can you stay in control of your diet when you are not in control of your eating environment? What you need to remember is that you are the customer, therefore you are in charge.
1. Have a snack before going out to eat: It seems a bit pointless to grab a bite to eat before going out for a meal, however, eating out when you are starving is a disaster waiting to happen. The menus are filled with calorie-rich options. Plus, they all have incredibly tempting names which makes them even harder to resist and stick to a salad and a glass of water. Juts grab a couple of whole wheat crackers and some low-fat cheese before you head out and you’ll feel much more in control.
2. Do not drink on an empty stomach: There’s a reason drinks are called aperitifs and that’s because they make you hungry. Have a drink on an empty stomach and it will open up your appetite, thus making every food item around you look irresistibly delicious. Also, if it’s a long cocktail hour, you may want to start with a diet drink or sparkling water before ordering a glass of wine or any other alcoholic drink.
3. Away with the bread: Demand that the bread basket be brought to the table along with the main course. This will keep you from nibbling while you are waiting wait for your order to arrive.
4. Be smart about your order: You could for instance order two appetizers instead of an appetizer and main course, this means you’ll get smaller portions of food. You could also share an entrée and the dessert with your dining companion. If you’re finding yourself at a fast-food restaurant, go for the salads or grilled meat or fish and make sure to ask for your salad dressing on the side.
5. Start your meal with a doggie-bag: Most restaurant meals are quite large and you’d probably only need half of those portions to feel satisfied. Ask for a doggie-bag to be brought along with your meal; this way you can set aside some of the food and only keep on your plate the amount you need.