Weight Loss Strategies for Dining Out

Lifestyle Education Discussion:
“Strategies for Health: Eating Out & Keeping It Together”

Eating out certainly complicates weight management. There are many reasons for this. From incorrect calorie and nutrition information, to environmental factors such as sights, smells and moods, we’re all more likely to overeat meals at restaurants. Calorie and nutrition info from the restaurant and the internet are notoriously inaccurate (under reporting calories) so that means even if you are doing your homework ahead of time, you’re still likely eating more calories than you think. The only true way to know the amount and quality of the food you eat is to prepare it yourself. Obviously, I’m a huge advocate for cooking and preparing meals at home, but I understand that’s a hard sell for most people. Here’s some tips to help you stay on track with your nutrition when you eat out:

Always have a plan. What will you eat… Who will you be with… What is the restaurant environment? What are your unique challenges? All of these factors influence your eating and food choices. Do some strategizing ahead of time so you’ll stick with choices that you will ultimately feel good about.
– Just say no! Being confident and assertive is an invaluable tool to carry. You will often find yourself in situations where it’s important to convey your wishes. There’s a lot of food pushers out there–some forms are subtle and others are obvious. It’s your body and your nutrition. Don’t be afraid to speak up for your needs or wants.

Practice effective communication. Ask questions about how your food is prepared and don’t hesitate to communicate how you wish your food to be cooked or prepared. Restaurants are in the business of serving you so it’s important you get food prepared the way you wish. Never feel guilty about this. Also, you may wish to communicate with friends and family about your nutrition needs. You’ll notice that many of those around you don’t share your newfound consciousness of health. They won’t understand why you’re not ordering that second glass of wine, or partaking in the nacho cheese fries. That’s ok. Just remember that “No” is a complete sentence. If you want to sweeten it up (being southern this is a must), you say, “No, thank you darlin’.”

Ask the wait staff to bring a to-go box when they bring your meal. Box up half and take it home with you, or share an entree. Most serving sizes will feed 2 people.

-Think “lean and clean” proteins and vegetables. Stay away from sauces, gravies and the like. Choose lean proteins that are baked, broiled, grilled, etc and double up on steamed vegetables.

Have an awareness of appropriate portion sizes. Most restaurants serve 2-3 times more than an appropriate serving size. Pull out grandma’s antique dishes and glasses and you’ll notice that serving dishes, plates and cups were much, much smaller. Don’t fall for the “more is better” trick. Most restaurants serve large portions of low quality food because customers want to feel like they are getting their money’s worth. In the end, it’s better to get quality over quantity.

– Always, ALWAYS choose unsweetened beverages. No sweet tea or soda’s.

Eat Mindfully. Pay attention to internal cues for hunger and satiety. Enjoy the company of friends and family. Make the occasion about the conversation and less about the act of eating. Put your fork down between bites and eat more slowly.

Ultimately, it’s good to be aware that we live in an obesogenic environment. Once you have that revelation, you become aware of the hidden factors that influence our eating behaviors. I know most of you read these posts on the go, but if you have tips that work for you, please share with the group. Many just aren’t able to make the Monday classes and we don’t want them to miss out!

Too busy to prepare quality meals? Order Chef-prepared meals here



About the Author
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Weight Loss Coach specializing in lifestyle transformation