When you’re tired of cooking at home a night out sounds ideal. Whether you’re trying something new or going to sit down at one of your favorite restaurants, dining out can be needed once in a while. However, when you’re trying to lose weight, a night out sounds more like a glutinous activity than a treat.
If you’re watching your weight, that shouldn’t stop you from being able to go out and enjoy a meal at a restaurant with friends and family. It just means you have to be more careful about what you eat and how much you eat. We spoke with Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, a nutritionist in private practice, and a member of our Medical Expert Board, to give us the scoop on how we can dine out and still lose weight. Read on to see how to go about it. Then, for more on dining out, check out The #1 Worst Thing to Order at The Cheesecake Factory, Says Dietitian.
It is possible to go to a restaurant and order a bowl of pasta when you’re trying to lose weight. However, although delicious, try not to eat it all in one sitting. Instead, try to separate it with some other filling yet healthier options.
“Restaurant portions are huge, so it pays to split an entree and order an extra salad and a side of vegetables to share,” says Young.
Plus, you get to have leftovers to eat the next day. That’s an extra perk!
When you go out to eat with friends and/or family, it may sometimes feel like a big reunion or celebration. Typically speaking, this will call for some alcoholic drinks, with a cheers to your time together.
“If you’re trying to lose weight, it really helps to watch the alcohol intake,” says Young. “And, if you are drinking, drink with a meal.”
If you’re not drinking alcohol, you still want to make sure your drink option is on the healthier side.
“Limit drinks with sodas and sugary syrups,” suggests Young.
Did you ever purposefully eat less throughout the day knowing you were going to eat out and have a big meal? Well, it’s time to put that habit to rest.
“We are often famished when we arrive at the restaurant,” shares Young. “Eating a healthy snack an hour or two before heading out helps.”
Skipping meals has also been linked to weight gain, according to research posted in the Nutrients journal. Therefore, it’s important to eat every meal and to not starve yourself.
One of the first things the waiters and waitresses put down on your table is a bread basket. And although it’s tempting, there are better options when you dine out to lose weight.
“Instead of eating the entire bread basket, which we often do when we sit down in the restaurant and wait for our main dish to arrive, order a healthy appetizer,” says Young.
Young suggests enjoying a salad with mixed vegetables or a vegetable-based soup. Vegetables can help keep you fuller longer, which is great when trying not to overeat and trying to lose weight.