There is nothing that halts your weight loss progress more than eating out and making poor food choices. However, it is just a part of life that sometimes we are going to be put into situations where we need to eat out, such as dates, birthdays or catch-ups with friends. Instead of feeling bad and saying no (I know you really want to go), try these useful tips when eating out at restaurants. There is no reason to punish yourself or go completely crazy, just learn how to make the right choices and you won't put your eating and exercise plan into jeopardy. It's okay that we still get to have delicious food with the girls!
Okay, let's go have a girls night at:
I think we can all agree that there is nothing better than a hearty pasta dish filled with tons of creamy goodness, however we know it is not the best thing to be eating all the time. When dining out in an Italian restaurant, try to ignore the bread basket and start with something like a minestrone soup for an entrée, it is full of vegetables and beans which have fibre to help keep you full. Stay away from the fried stuff like chicken or arancini balls — a lot of the time these sorts of fats can make you feel a little bloated. Choose your sides smartly; there is no need for garlic bread when you can have sautéed garlic spinach and greens. The best mains to order are the ones with a serving of protein, such as fish with a large side of veggies. Don’t worry, you can still have pasta, just be aware of what you order. You can enjoy it if you keep the portion size small, ask for an entree-sized pasta meal rather than a main size and try to stay away from artificial and overly creamy sauces — the best sauces are tomato-based, and if you are with a friend, sharing a pasta dish is a great idea.
Greek and Mediterranean food is generally quite healthy as they traditionally use a lot of whole grains, vegetables and fish. However there are a few things you need to look out for. Stay away from fatty cuts of meat and things with excessive olive oil (sometimes very difficult I know, I'm Greek!). If you usually order a yiros, skip the oil-spread bread and garlic sauce and instead have the yiros meat on a large salad. Tabouli is a great option! Hummus is also a great entrée option, with wholemeal pita if available....okay, I love hummus!
As much as we all love deep-fried spring rolls, dim sims and chicken drenched in heavy honey sauces, we also know they are not the best choice. Keep these at a minimum or instead opt for steamed dumplings, steamed greens with soy sauce and dishes with the lighter sauces, like stir fries. Other things to try to avoid are sweet and sour sauces, meat-inclusive fried rices (I always opt for veggie-fried rice), and Chow Mein. Instead, try broth soups, mixed vegetable dishes and other lean meat dishes.
I feel like Mexican food is all the rage right now, there are tons of food trucks and small shops popping up with delicious creations. However, you may not realise that some of the options aren't actually as healthy as they seem. When eating Mexican, try to order tacos filled with grilled chicken, steak or fish. Avoid dishes with heavy, creamy sauces. Stay away from the heavy cheese toppings and opt for fresh salsas and guacamole, I secretly am obsessed with avocado. Be careful with the 'gauc' though, although avocados contain healthy fats, overindulge too much and the calories can add up. Also avoid the refried beans, which can be cooked with lots of oil. Order corn as a side, but hold off on the butter or ask for it on the side so you can control how much you are eating.
We all get in those moods where we enter a restaurant and could literally eat everything off the menu! Try to remember that portion control plays a huge part in weight loss, so next time you study the menu try to weigh up what you really want vs what you actually need or will eat. Tobi (my boyfriend) legitimately gets like 5 dishes but he is usually good at justifying "why he needs it". Usually he says "he is bulking"!
If you do want something such as an appetiser to start off your meal, stay away from anything with refined carbs, such as white breads and any type of fried foods. Munching on that piece of bread because you are hungry and impatient can cost you other delicious bits of the meal. Fill up on the good stuff. Try and order green salads with plenty of vegetables and always ask for the dressing on the side. Stay away from creamy dressings, such as ranch and mayo, and go for the balsamic and olive oil ones. Always order sides of veggies instead of fries, and try to eat them first as this will fill you up and you will be less likely to overeat. If you're super lucky, the cafe or restaurant will have sweet potato fries!
Also try to skip the soft drinks, as they add sneaky unwanted calories to your meal and the artificial sweeteners can be no good for you. Instead go for sparkling water, herbal teas or even a juice.
Sometimes it's not about the fancy restaurants but simply hanging with your friends, getting ready for a movie night in and grabbing some takeaway. You will be pleased to hear you can still do this and it is simple to make healthier choices in this scenario! If you are getting hamburgers, avoid the usual drive-through joints and find a smaller burger bar. Here they will generally serve turkey burgers or vegetarian patties (even large Portobello mushroom ones). Skip the bun and eat it on top of a large salad with mustard and relish as a dressing on the side. Or if you love a bit of bun with your burger try to have a healthier choice instead. If you love your beef burgers too much, opt for organic, grass-fed beef and eat it served on a wholegrain bun. If too much bread makes you feel too full or bloated, take the top of the bun off to eat it open-faced. As always, when choosing sauces stay away from the creamy ones.
Baked potatoes are another popular takeaway option. Try buying a plain baked potato and topping it at home with things like Greek yoghurt, sliced veggies, turkey and a small amount of shredded cheese.
Here is a tip for all the pizza lovers. You can still eat it, you just have to be aware of what is on it. The same as the burgers, stay away from your typical high-fat meat lovers pizza. Always go for a thin crust, wholemeal if possible. Ask the waiter to half the amount of cheese they would normally put on it and choose toppings that are smart. For example, tons of veggies and lean proteins such as chicken breast. Order a salad before your main meal so that it helps fill you up. We have a special pizza bar in my home city that is amazing and they do some really cool, homemade-style pizzas.
I love eating at restaurants, but I know it can be very easy to get carried away when there is an abundance of choice. Remember half the reason you are there is for the socialising and not necessarily the food. Just because you have a massive plate filled with food in front of you does NOT mean you have to eat every last crumb, especially if you know you're going to make yourself sick. Be aware that MOST restaurant portions are waaaaay bigger than they need to be and it is up to you to use your common sense and know when to stop... again, unless you're Tobi and you eat the plate too. Stop eating the second you feel full and remember it takes time for your stomach to recognise it is full. Skip dessert, or if you really want something sweet either share it or choose something like a fruit salad or light hot chocolate.
I hope these tips helped you and remember, it is okay to splurge a little once in awhile and treat yourself, in fact I highly recommend it. Just make healthier choices and your body will thank you for it!