How to Stay on Track When Eating Out

It happens all the time…’ve eaten well all week, but a weekend brunch or dinner out with friends completely throws you for a loop. Everything you know to do is completely forgotten, and you find yourself eating and drinking your way to feeling bloated, tired and crabby….and maybe a little bit guilty.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Follow these tips to enjoy a treat or two while eating out, but not get completely off track from your nutrition goals!

#1-Check the menu before you go, because impulse decisions are rarely good decisions when facing a menu of endless possibilities. Pick out a few items that fit within your nutrition plan and consider what alterations or substitutions the dish might need (grilled instead of fried chicken, sauce on the side, extra veggies, etc). Remember you can almost always add protein to a salad, order a burger without the bun, or choose two smaller appetizers instead of one large entree.

#2-While scanning the menu ahead of time, decide what treat (if any) is going to be worth it. It might be an appetizer the restaurant is famous for, or maybe it’s a cheesy-creamy pasta sauce that you love. For me, it’s the creme brûlée….I always treat myself when I see it on the menu. Whatever it is, choose just one, and minimize the impact: share the appetizer or dessert, or ask for the sauce on the side so you can control how much you eat.

#3-Once at the restaurant, start with a large glass of water, avoid the bread basket, sit further away from free the chips and salsa, and stick to your guns on your order…..even if everyone else is ordering the fried cheese, fried chicken, french fries and fried apple pie! Ok, so that may not happen, but you know what I mean. Remind yourself that you were perfectly happy with your order when you selected it earlier, and it’s going to be delicious!

#4-Ask for a to-go box right away. Restaurant portions are notoriously huge, so start off by placing half your order in the box and then forget about it. You’ll be glad you did when you have lunch already prepped for tomorrow!

#5-If you drink, alternate alcoholic drinks with water. Yeah, it’s easy to order another round whenever the server stops by to ask, but the last drink never tastes as good as the first, so stay mindful and know your limit.

#6-If things take a turn for the worse, DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. Guilt has no place in a nutrition plan. You made some choices you might regret, but take some mental notes about where you went wrong and resolve to make different choices next time.

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