With people using lack of time as the number one excuse for living a healthy lifestyle, dining out at restaurants and fast food establishments is a major part of most peoples lives. It is unrealistic for any health and fitness professional to ask someone to cut out dining out entirely, but in reality if you have any weight loss goals then dining out and especially fast-food options should be limited as home cooked food is usually healthier and more nutritious. The following are helpful tips for managing fast-food and restaurant dining without ruining your weight loss goals:
If you know you are going out to a restaurant for a meal, try to plan ahead and take a look at the menu beforehand. This is helpful because you are more likely to make unhealthy and poor choices when you are hungry or distracted and the look or smell of food can make sticking to a plan more difficult. Decide what you are going to have prior to making rash decisions you might regret later.
Share with Someone
Offer to split an entree with a friend because normally an entree is often more than enough for two people. Sharing with a friend will benefit you from a smaller portion size, limited caloric intake and even cost wise. If you have nobody to share with, you can always ask to wrap up half your meal to take home. This will help control your portion sizes and keep you on the right track to your weight loss goals. In North America our portion sizes have increased considerably in the past 30 years and most restaurant meals are double or sometimes even triple normal portion sizes.
Especially in fast food chains try to choose kid-sized options if available instead of supersized or “value” meals. Most adult portion sizes are too large anyways and most of the calories you are intaking are not nutritious. If you have to go to a fast food chain, be mindful and chose a smaller portion size. Portion control is so important and can make a huge impact on your weight loss journey.
Choose Baked or Grilled
When dining out and being mindful of your eating instead of getting a fried option choose a baked or grilled option when available. This can definitely reduce your fat intake, caloric intake and help you make better and healthier decisions. Try choosing a baked potato or vegetables instead of fries or onion rings and try choosing grilled chicken instead of breaded cutlets. This is an easy and helpful strategy in being more mindful when dining out.
Try avoiding sauces and dressings with your meal when dining out or at least ask for it on the side. Sauces and dressings are usually not very nutritional and can add a lot of extra calories and extra fat to your meal. If you want to add some extra flavour, aim for low calorie sauces with lower levels of sugar and fat including Sriracha and some other hot sauces.
I know it is hard when the options are endless and the food is amazing but if your goals are to continue to crush your weight loss goals you have to make some tough decisions. Another strategy to control your caloric intake is to try to avoid dessert or ask for fresh fruit. If you are going to a nice restaurant with friends you don’t have to sit there miserable and watch them enjoy. Just be mindful. It takes strong willpower to resist but successful weight loss takes willpower every single day.
Being mindful along with a positive mindset and believing in yourself will help you figure out dining out and what strategies work for you. You can still live your best life and be social while making better decisions dining out. Everyone is different but staying mindful about what food you are consuming is really important for your overall health.