A recent study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that women who eat out for lunch lose less weight than women who bring lunch to work or stay home for lunch. Decreasing the meals you eat outside of your home is the first step toward giving your weight loss progress a boost. The second, equally crucial, step is to build rapport with the restaurants where you dine. Below are some tips to help you dine out in a smarter and healthier way.
Before you even leave your home or office have 1-2 glasses of water. Drinking water before getting to the restaurant will keep you full while you wait for the food to arrive and prevent any over-ordering.
Once you’re sitting at the table, eliminate the temptation to eat bread by asking the server to hold the bread. You must do this immediately because it is very difficult to turn bread away once it’s near you or on your table.
Most restaurants use canola oil instead of healthier options like avocado, coconut or olive oil. While you can’t expect the restaurant to change its menu and cooking methods for little old you, it is reasonable to learn more about what types of oils the restaurant uses and how often they change the oil. You can also request a decrease in the amount of oil used in your food.
Knowing where the food comes from helps you learn about the quality of your meal’s ingredients. Some relevant questions may include: Is the meat sourced locally, grass-fed? Is the chicken free-range, organic or both?
By now everyone knows that when it comes to nutrition, sugar is more foe than friend. Salt can be equally detrimental to your health. Moreover, it’s often overused by restaurant staff. Start by asking if the restaurant uses sea salt (the healthy kind of salt), and politely request that they decrease the salt content to the lowest amount possible without compromising the recipe.
When dining out sugar usually comes in liquid form, as a cocktail or sugary juice. If you’re trying to lose weight or manage a nutrition-based illness, you want to stick to drinking water with your meal. If you like carbonated drinks you can order seltzer and add the juice of a lime or lemon for additional thirst quenching. Sticking to carbonated water saves you from the calories and the sugar crash while sticking to plain water also saves you money. If you want to consume liquor, order it with seltzer and lime juice also.
If you’re dining out alone the healthiest option is to skip dessert. If you’re a slave to your sweet tooth you can request a quarter or half of the usual portion to come to the table and the other half to be boxed so you can take it to go. Note, this is not an excuse to have the rest of the dessert the same day but at a later time; it is intended to help you avoid the temptation of eating it all in one sitting. If you know you’re unable to resist eating the other half at a later time then you should either skip dessert or ask for the restaurant to keep the left-over portion.
You may feel weird or receive awkward looks and responses when you begin to ask questions about your food, but remember, as a paying patron it is your right to know.