12 Dec Eat Out without Expansion
Eating out should be fun. It’s a time to socialize and laugh. At least for me, a Saturday night dinner with friends keeps me motivated to utilize my kitchen during the week and stay on track with work. The occasion should mitigate stress; yet, we often feel guilty once our feet pass through those restaurant doors.
Maybe you felt bored, maybe there was a fight, maybe your wallet feels empty, but most likely, your regret is due to an over-indulgence. Restaurants add salt, fat and sodium to everything—it’s a delicious curse.
Often when dining out, I feel bloated, and well salty. My confidence the morning after takes a hit. The memory of sharing drinks and bites with close friends becomes sour.
Sometimes you just got to go with it. Let’s say it’s your friend’s birthday: Give in and eat that rich slice of chocolate cake. Let’s say it’s Cinco de Mayo: Enjoy a margarita on the rocks (perhaps without a salted rim).
But as for most nights out, you have the power to control your plate. As long as you aren’t planning a dine-and-ditch, you deserve to customize your meal as you choose. Don’t be embarrassed—you’re paying the check!
For instance, when I order an omelet for breakfast, I am annoyingly precise. Egg whites, dry (meaning: PAM spray or light oil), well done, Greek, no mushrooms, extra broccoli to replace the mushrooms, English muffin, two strawberry jams, fruit or potatoes on a separate plate. It can take up to three minutes to write down. But hey, say thank you, smile and leave a generous tip.
Follow these tips stay healthy when out and leave with no regrets:
- Always ask for dressing or sauce on the side. Salads that are pre-dressed can add up to 100-600 calories! The numbers wrack up as the dressing gets creamier. Use two-to-three forkfuls (not spoon!) to spread amongst the greens. If it’s in a plastic container, drizzle in a little and shake with the top on in order to mix evenly.
- Ask for no butter on steaks, fish, chicken or vegetable sides. Insist on olive oil—or a peanut, flax, coconut, or sesame—oil instead, and ask them to make it “light.”
- Ask vegetables to be steamed, rather than grilled, roasted or stir-fried in order to minimize calories from oils and additives. Always avoid fried—there’s no benefit whatsoever.
- Ask eggs to be dry; often restaurants are too heavy on the oil and butter.
- Choose wine—red contains resveratrol, which promotes longevity—or a light beer over a sugary, mixed drink for the most health benefits. Don’t treat your drink like dessert. As the number of liquors or creams increases, the calories follow. And don’t be shy to order your own creation: if vodka, club soda and lime is not listed on the cocktail menu, don’t be afraid to ask for it.
- Check out the menu online before heading to the restaurant. You should give yourself time to decide what and how to order in a healthy manner that works for you.
- Friends are highly influential, so be sure to order first. Once one friend opts for nachos over crudité, you’re more inclined to follow suit.
- Don’t exceed 3 drinks, and that’s a maximum. The healthier range to stay in is 1-2. Once your drunken state vanishes, you’ll be left wanting a plate of chocolate chip, banana pancakes with extra powdered sugar.
- If you have a social week ahead, cook at home during the times you can and stay on track with eating well in between those restaurant meals.
- Add in more fruits and vegetables during the day to fight sugar cravings. If you are more clear-headed and full on a green juice, you’ll be more able to fight temptation.
- Eat a small, low-calorie soup or plain, house salad to fill up before approaching a heavy entrée. Once you are full, put the fork down. Better yet, add vegetables to your entrée to take up volume on the plate and save you calories.
- Eat slowly and focus on conversation with friends. If you are alone, eat slowly and relax. Savor your food and company.
- Choose a sorbet, sherbet or fruit plate for dessert, rather than a dense cake or pie. A scoop or two won’t hurt your waistline.
- Make decisions at each meal: wine, dessert, or bread? Choose one. And everything in moderation.
- It’s ok to order a baked potato—but without the signature fatty toppings of bacon, sour cream and butter. Alone, potatoes are packed with fiber and nutrients.
- Limit condiments, as they are extremely salty, and ask for low-sodium sauce when possible. A Chinese restaurant will always offer low-sodium soy sauce.
- Have fun. Remember why you are there.
If you still feel guilt, don’t stress. The activation of cortisol will only intensify the stress and slow down your metabolism to promote weight gain.
And don’t detox on a master cleanse: it will only leave you sluggish, irritable and with short-term results. Add in healthy juices to detox, but keep each juice between 50-200 calories, as though you are treating them as a snack. Eat clean, get back to these tips, and you’ll feel energized, confident and healthy in no time.