One of the toughest parts about eating healthy is avoiding restaurant traps. Eating out is necessary for people who travel often or have an active social life that requires meeting for meals. And while eating at a restaurant can require careful planning, there are ways to do it without falling prey to the problems of restaurant eating.
The most obvious restaurant trap is portion sizes. If you compare today’s portion sizes to those from fifty years ago you’ll see that today restaurants serve almost twice as much on the plate. If you’re someone who usually cleans your plate, this is a set up for unwanted weight gain.
In order to avoid this trap, you’ll need to be aware that you probably only need to eat about half of what you’re served. Many people find success by asking for to-go containers as soon as their meal is served. They package up half of their meal and then eat the rest later.
You may also find a friend who enjoys the same dish and split it. In general eating half of what you’re served will help you to stay within the recommended calories for a single meal. Beyond portion size, though, there are other problems.
For example, restaurant dishes are known for containing much higher calories from fat than something you’d make at home. But you can look for ways to manage the calories by making good choices from the menu.
With the availability of online menus, you can usually take a look at what options are available at your restaurant. Choosing the items you will be eating while still at home, can make it easier to pass up foods you may regret later.
Some restaurants have a special menu for people looking to eat healthier and lose weight. If the restaurant you’re in doesn’t have a special menu, you can look for grilled proteins and steamed vegetables as an option. Salads can also be a good choice but beware of high-calorie dressings that can make the salad higher in calories than something else. Choosing a dressing on the side can be helpful.
The ambiance in a restaurant can also make it a challenge to stick to your eating plan. A quiet restaurant where you can have a conversation can help you slow down and help you stay on track.
Restaurants that are loud with servers who are pushing drinks and desserts on your table can make it more difficult. And the dessert menu is another big trap for people who are trying to reach a healthy weight. In general you should skip the dessert or have something at home. Homemade treats can be tweaked for maximum nutrition and minimal unwanted sugar or fat.
And while not every restaurant has this, the complimentary bread basket or bowl of chips that many restaurants offer can make it really difficult to stick with a healthy eating plan. You may want to ask your server to take it away so that the temptation can be avoided. Some restaurants offer olives and nuts, or pickled veggies as an alternative.
Restaurant traps can make it hard to stick to your healthy food plan, but by making good choices you can enjoy eating out without suffering from unwanted weight gain. You may also want to consider hosting dinner parties at home so allow you to enjoy the social part of eating with friends without the restaurant traps.