How can I eat healthy when I am dining at a restaurant?

June 5th, 2014

Eating out at a restaurant can be a fun activity.  Trying new foods, meeting with friends, and a sense of freedom from not having to cook and clean are all part of the experience.  However, eating out can mean trouble if you are trying to lose weight or maintain a low cholesterol level as I have discussed in my previous blogpost.  Here are some tips you can consider trying at your next outing.

  • Order an additional appetizer instead of an entree.  Many restaurants make sizable appetizers that are filling enough.  If you think you may be hungry, order a vegetable side with that appetizer.
  • If you are having dinner with others, consider eating “family style”.  Order one less entree than people in your party.  Again, most portions are very generous at restaurants and I can almost guarantee that you will feel full.
  • Create multiple small courses.  In the Mediterranean region, people eat small portions of food but with many courses.  When you spread the meal out like that, you actually feel full gradually, rather than suddenly feeling too full.  The stomach was not meant to become stuffed within a few minutes.  Indigestion, esophageal reflux (GERD) and gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) can all become worsened by eating too quickly.
  • Order less food than you think will make you full. If you need more food, you can always order a side of vegetables.  Over-ordering almost always results in over-eating.  We have been taught to “finish what’s on our plates”.  If you are dining in a new place and the portions are much larger than you normally would eat, ask the waiter to wrap up half your meal, BEFORE you start eating.  It’s always much more difficult to stop eating after you’ve started.
  • Skip the bread basket.  Ask the waiter to take back the bread basket and butter.  These are excess carbs and fat that can increase the calories of your meal.
  • Always order a vegetable or salad as an appetizer.
  • Drink plenty of water.  Water helps with digestion and helps to fill your stomach.
  • Ask for dressings and sauces to be placed on the side.  This allows you to control how much you add to your food.
  • Bring a friend and talk to him/her throughout dinner.  Having conversations slows down the speed of your eating and increases your enjoyment.