Dining out can be a major stumbling block for many dieters. Especially since eating out has become a very common way to socialize and do business. Many restaurants serve large portions of high-calorie foods, so it can be hard to stick to your diet while your dining companions are eating with abandon. It is possible though to eat out without breaking your diet.
If you follow these five tips, eating out while on a diet will be easier than you think. Do not fear your local cafe, just use these clever tricks to help you order a diet-friendly meal. Your friends will be impressed by how savvy you have become!
1. Skip the Before-dinner Cocktail
Alcoholic beverages are not only high in calories, they can also affect our eating habits. We all know that drinking alcoholic beverages can lower our inhibitions. Few of us, however, think about how these lowered inhibitions might result in poor food choices. Just one drink can weaken the part of your brain that makes decisions, so that classic before-dinner drink could lead you to make a reckless choice when it comes time to order.
Princeton University psychology researchers have found that consuming alcohol releases the neuropeptide galanin into your brain. This brain chemical seems to increase cravings for fatty foods, yet another reason to save your cocktail hour for after you have had a healthy, well-balanced meal!
2. Ask Your Server to Leave the Bread Basket In the Kitchen
Ordering from a menu of decadent entrees can be extremely tempting on its own, but placing a basket of warm dinner rolls in front of your face is just an exercise in self-control! Just one dinner roll can add quite a bit of calories to your meal. For example, just one roll from the chain restaurant Texas Roadhouse will add 227 calories to your meal!
If you’re very hungry, immediately order a simple garden salad. The high fiber and water content of the veggies will tide you over while you wait for your entree. Having a salad can also decrease your total caloric intake. One research study found that women who ate a large low-calorie salad before their meal consumed 12% fewer calories. Remember to keep your salad low-calorie by asking your server to leave off toppings like bacon bits, croutons, and cheese, and put the dressing on the side.
3. Eat Dessert First
Do you absolutely have to have the chocolate cake from your favorite restaurant? If you know before you order that dessert is a must-have, consider ordering it first. For thousands of years, Ayurvedic medicine practitioners have supported the belief that eating sweet foods at the beginning of the meal will keep your body in balance.
Modern science has discovered that the Ayurvedic practitioners may have been onto something. Researchers at the Imperial College London have conducted studies on rats that suggest that eating sugary foods at the beginning of a meal could reduce your overall consumption.
4. Know What Cooking Techniques Could Bust Your Diet
Ordering a diet-friendly entree may not be as easy as you think. Many restaurants use unfamiliar cooking terms to describe their entrees. If you do not know what the term means, you might find yourself with a plate loaded with calories in front of you.
Here are Some Decoded Cooking Terms:
- Tempura- is a Japanese deep frying method
- Au Gratin- made with cheese and cream
- Battered- covered in flour, eggs and butter, then fried
- Basted- usually a high sugar sauce is used
- Creamed- prepared with full fat cream and butter
- “Cream of” Soups- are typically high in saturated fats and calories
- Skillet-fried, wok-fried, or stir-fried- no matter what it is fried in, it is still fried!
5. Eat Mindfully
Remember when you are at a restaurant to enjoy eating! Take your time and do not eat distracted. Avoid smartphones, televisions, noisy rooms and other distractions. Find a quiet table where you can focus on the company of your fellow dinner and your fabulous food. With each bite slowly catalog the different flavors and textures you are experiencing.
In 2013, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a review of 24 separate studies on eating attentively. The collection of research revealed that eating mindfully and without distraction is likely to decrease the amount of food you eat at that particular meal.
If you are on a diet, you have no reason to fear restaurants. If you avoid pre-dinner cocktails and bread, know how to read a menu, eat mindfully and maybe even eat dessert first, you can dine out without sabotaging your diet.