5 Tips on How to Dine Out Without Pigging Out

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By Deborah Myers, FNS and Delightfully Fit Administrator

Eating out and maintaining fitness: could it be synonymous? It can be! Eating out doesn’t mean a “diet” needs to be put on hold for an over-the-top splurge; it also doesn’t mean that you have to stick to the salad bar.  A major concept that needs to be implemented into health, nutrition, and fitness is that it isn’t something that should be thought of as a “red light, green light” régime.

Let’s visit one common situation people find themselves in all too often.

“Wow, I feel like I’ve gained weight, and now I’m determined to lose some. I’ll eat salads, avoid carbs, and make sure I’m burning X amount of calories at the gym.”

Then, someone calls and asks you to join them for dinner and drinks this Friday night.

“Darn, I’ve been so good. I guess I’ll have to put my diet on hold while I splurge on this and that.”

To the person who often finds themselves in this situation: I have good news! You CAN go out to enjoy a meal and implement good nutritional habits. You CAN eat a delicious, balanced meal, and have no reason to feel guilty! You CAN even have dessert, can you believe it? How is this possible? Well, let’s break it down.
1. Ditch the bread.-Is all bread evil? No. But the worst time you want to eat a sticky sweet white bread roll is on an empty stomach. The bread will fill your stomach quickly and raise your glucose levels on the spot. Because refined white bread is high in simple carbohydrates and calories and low in fiber and protein, this feeling of satisfaction will soon fade after you hit the town post dinner. On site, however, we wind up eating the bread to satisfy our hungry bellies and then push our dinners to the side 30% consumed because we filled up on bread. That’s a dinner mostly made up of simple carbohydrates! Instead, order that side salad or a lean, vegetable or protein based appetizer to warm up your belly for your delicious dinner meal.
2. Drink your H2O.-There’s no need to add calories and sugar to any meal by means of sweet teas and soda. Keeping yourself hydrated will allow you to ensure you aren’t eating more because you’re actually thirsty and your body is craving the water content from your foods, so keep the H2O coming throughout your dinner!
3. Balance your entrée.- Let’s face it. The most popular entrees at a restaurant are usually comfort foods, which are typically dishes with a high concentration of fat, usually by means of cheeses or creams. While a cheesy sauce can be a splurge from time-to-time, keep in mind that foods at restaurants are often generously cooked in oils to add flavor, and what are oils made of? Fat; beneficial fat, but fat nonetheless. Let’s say we add cream covered pasta to beef cooked with oil. Yikes! Let’s rewind. Avoid the creamy starches and opt for vegetables and a potato with a lean protein! Many restaurants are getting hip to this health thing, and will offer things like brown rice and various whole grain options as sides in addition to vegetables. Take them up on their offer and forget the cheese ravioli. Remember that these proteins and veggies make a great wrap for tomorrow’s lunch, so when you’re full, feel free to wrap it up (literally)!
4. If you’re still hungry, delight in dessert!-Go ahead; get that chocolate cake, as long as you give me a bite. Honestly, it’s OK to have your dessert and share with your dinner dates. Most likely, when everything’s said and done, everyone has 2-3 bites of that post-dinner decadence. If that little bit of sweetness is what makes you happy, two or three bites will not break the bank, nor will you have to fear glucose spikes because you will have dinner in your belly to keep your sugar levels steady.
5. Don’t Get Derailed.-From time to time, everyone suffers a splurging snafu, but don’t become overwhelmed with guilt. Do you want to know one of the biggest culprits that sabotage weight loss and weight management? Guilt! It causes us to think that since we may have made a mistake or two, we aren’t worth our own efforts, so we swing right back to destructive habits. One mistake isn’t going to destroy your hard work, just like you won’t achieve your fitneshttp://theurbanrealist.com/wp-admin/post-new.phps goals in one workout session. It’s about what we do day in and day out, so continue with your positive efforts, and don’t beat yourself up about it. You and your body deserve better than that!

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