diningoutDining out can derail even the most disciplined weight loss plan.  Remember it’s not about weight loss, it’s really about weight control. So how do you stay in control when you have a busy schedule? It would be nice to think we can create prepackaged meals that keep us on track, but that’s not the reality for many of us.

For many of us who are focused on weight control, our busy lifestyles dictate that we must eat out on occasion. These days, restaurant portions are two to three times that of an appropriate serving size not to mention extra oil, butter and sauces heaped onto your dish. When trying to lose weight, making the right choice is critical for continued success. Below are some simple tips for weight control to help you order wisely; dining out with a survival guide can be enjoyable and hassle-free.

Simple Strategies for Success:

  • Choose steamed, roasted, and poached or lightly sautéed over fried or breaded. Beware of menu description that uses the words creamy, crisp, sauced, au gratin or stuffed. These items are likely loaded with hidden fats — much of it saturated or even trans fats.
  • Ask the waiter to box half your entrée before it ever gets to the table. Or split an entrée with your dining partner. Reducing portion sizes or sharing entrees can help keep calories in check. Also try ordering a low fat appetizer (soup or salad) to curb your appetite before your meal arrives.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Ask your sever to limit gravies, sauces, butter, and extra oil on dishes. If an item is fried, ask for it grilled. If it comes with french fries, ask for a side of veggies instead.
  • Order from the “healthy, light, low fat” entrées on the menu but beware of the low-carb options. Low-carb doesn’t always mean low-cal. For instance, at Ruby Tuesday the Low-Carb New Orleans Seafood packs 710 calories and 42 grams of fat!
  • Skip the fancy drinks. If you must order an alcoholic drink, forget the margaritas, piña coladas, and other exotic mixed drinks. They include sugary additions that only add calories. Opt instead for a glass of wine, a light beer, a vodka and tonic or a simple martini (without the chocolate liquor, sour green apple schnapps, or triple sec).
  • Drink water throughout the meal, aim for at least 2 glasses of water before your food arrives. It will slow you down, help you enjoy the food more, and let the message get to your brain that you’re full — before your plate is empty.
  • Do your research. Many restaurants list their menu online with a nutritional guide. Decide what to order before entering the restaurant. This tactic will help you avoid any tempting foods that may not be as healthy.
  • Choose seafood, chicken, or lean red meat rather than fatty or processed meats; remove all visible fat from any meat.
  • Request that the bread basket or fried tortilla chips is not brought to the table.

Because eating out is a normal and enjoyable part of daily life, learning to order wisely can help you enjoy your dining experience while still keeping you on track with your weight loss goals. Eat slowly, and savor each bite! Remember that weight loss is a journey; Blue Sky MD is here to offer you support and guidance along the way.

Image provided by Flickr.