One of the most common questions I get is “how do I eat out, while getting or staying lean, and still have a good time?”
It’s not only a common question but important too. If your program interrupts your social life or kills your joy? How long will you really stay with it. Not long.
An even better answer would be why would you want to do something that says don’t go out and have a good time?
So. Yes you can eat out and get or stay lean. And you should.
But it can be one of the biggest diet traps out there. You’re putting your food’s preparation into the hands of someone else, you are giving up control of how healthy that meal is. Restaurants are businesses designed to give you the best tasting food- which means fat, butter, oil and calories.
The rule here is a little planning goes a long way. As long as you come into the situation prepared, you can order something that will keep your mind at ease and your diet right on track. And like most things the more you do it the better you get at it. Then you’re rolling.
Before you head to the restaurant:
# Find out where you are going and check them menu before you leave. Most restaurants have entered the computer age and post their menus online. Pick your healthy meal out ahead of time and, here’s the kicker, stick to it. Another recent bonus is most places are required to share the nutrition facts of their foods, which will make choosing a healthy option even easier.
# When you choose your meal, watch out for diet-danger words in both the names and descriptions of the meals, like Basted, Battered, Breaded, Bottomless, Crunchy, Creamy, Fried, Smothered or Stuffed. Look for words like: Broiled, Baked, Fresh, Grilled, Fat Free, Light or Poached to indicate healthier options.
# Lots of magazines like to tell you to eat a snack before you go out to keep you from over eating, but if overeating is an issue for you, chances are you’ll eat that snack along with whatever you normally would have eaten at the restaurant, too. Everyone is different, so use a little guess and check to find out what workls best for you. If you find that before meal snack didn’t prevent you from eating anything, try ordering a salad and drinking a glass of water before your entree comes. This could also curb overeating. If you do have a snack, make sure it is something filling, yet low in cals, like some fruit, or yogurt.
When you are at the restaurant:
# Dining companions are sometimes worse for your diet than the actual food, so make your intentions clear. When you sit down, make a point to tell everyone you are trying to eat healthier. Don’t mention weight, just meantion health, and be as blatant or as subtle as you’d like. Having thrown it out there will keep you from going overboard in front of them, no matter how they are eating, and hopefully stop them from pushing food onto you you would rather not eat.
# Pass on the bread basket, chips, or whatever munchies are laid out. Mindless eating will add hundreds of calories, and you still have your meal coming.
# Watch your alcohol- this not only adds hundreds of calories as well, it can lower your inhibitions as cause you to eat even more.
# Keep the menu shut. You already made your choice at home, and looking at the menu will only tempt you with unhealthy options.
# Sip water- it will fill you up.
# Don’t eat your whole meal. We are a clean-your-plate society, but restaurant meals are proven to be 2,3,and sometimes 4 times a normal serving size. Pack up the rest and eat it for lunch the next day. If you need convincing, tell yourself you are saving money by stretching the meal further.
# Be careful of extras: salad dressing, sauces, cheese, and even bites off others’ plates can add hundreds of calories without a second thought.
# Don’t be afraid to make special requests. Ask what is in your meal, how you can make it lighter, if you can swap full fat ingredients for no fat, etc. If the waiter gets snippy, which they shouldn’t, but we all know that doesn’t mean anything, tell you them are deathly allergic and wouldn’t want your hospital bill coming out of their paycheck.
After the meal:
# If you want to have dessert, go ahead and have it, but split it with someone.
# Or have coffee or tea to end your meal. You won’t feel left out while everyong is shovelling in their dessert, and you also won’t be doubling your dinner calories.
# Remember the 80/20 rule: if you eat well 80% of the time, you can splurge 20% of the time. Don’t use exercise as a punishment for going out, and don’t use it as an excuse to eat whatever you want. Many people do the “I ate out so now I need to go exercise it off” way of thinking which gives a negative connotation to exercise, and is the wrong mind frame. Exercise is awesome, and everyone should exercise, but think of calories as fuel for your workouts, not the opposite of exercise. You had a good time and that’s ok- exercise3 as you normally would and go on with your life.
# Drink lots of water. No matter what you ordered, restaurant food is high in sodium, so water will keep you from bloating.
Follow these tips for a healthy, and maybe just as important, a stress-free meal out, and of course, remember to have fun. Lots of fun.
Here’s your complete how-to for getting and staying lean while dining out. There’s a special bonus at the back of the guide just for you. Click here to download ==>The Leanbody Guide to Dining Out