For most Americans eating out is a common experience and has become more and more frequent with everyone’s busy schedule. With a little planning and thoughtful ordering you can eat out while still continuing your new healthy way of eating. Don’t forget everything you have been working on at home and apply it to your meals at restaurants as well. After surgery it is important to make sure that you are tolerating solid foods well before heading out to your favorite restaurant. Use the following tips to make sure you do not fall into the many pitfalls of dining out.
Plan ahead of time. Most restaurants now have menus online, therefore when choosing where to go, make sure there are a few healthier options to choose from. Some restaurants are starting to have healthy meal sections as well as listing nutritional information.
- Do NOT skip meals or snacks before going to a restaurant, you do not want to be excessively hungry, this tends to lead to over eating and poor food choices.
- Skip the bread, ask your waiter not to bring the bread basket to your table ahead of time.
- Do not order a beverage. If water is brought to your table, put it aside to avoid reaching for a sip out of old habit.
- Order a balanced meal; make sure it includes a lean protein, starch and vegetables. Remember protein is still your priority.
- Look for the following cooking descriptions for lower fat options: baked, braised, broiled, grilled, poached, roasted and steamed.
- Avoid the following descriptions: batter-fried, pan-fried, buttered, creamed, crispy and breaded.
- It’s okay to make special requests.
- Ask if you are unsure about how your meal is prepared.
- On sandwiches choose lean roast beef, ham, turkey or chicken on whole grain bread. Ask for mustard, ketchup, salsa or low fat spread on the side.
- Monitor portion sizes!
- Split an entrée with a friend.
- Order an appetizer for your meal however be careful to avoid high fat and fried appetizers.
- Portion off your appropriate serving size before you eat and put the rest in a “doggy bag.”
- Eat slowly, take small bites, and chew well.
Dining out is a social experience; however make sure to continue your healthy eating habits you have been working so hard on. It is a good idea to go out with family and friends that are supportive of your weight loss and will help you avoid the pitfalls of dining out.