3 Rules for Dining Out Guiltlessly
If you’re like most people, your social life revolves around food. Mine does. Because I eat at restaurants with friends so often, I’ve had to come up with a few ways not to wreck my fitness plan. Here are my tips for eating out and staying fit.
#1 Savor the Flavor
“The restaurant industry has spent decades studying human behavior and figuring out all sorts of subliminal ways to make us want to order and eat more,” reports the Eat This, Not That duo. But eating more doesn’t mean enjoying more. In fact, it often means the opposite: when we eat on autopilot, we aren’t savoring the flavor. When we eat more than we want to, the guilt takes away all satisfaction.
Being a discerning diner doesn’t mean being a deprived diner, but eating slower and eating less—stretching the good stuff a little further. That margherita pizza may be the best you’ve had since Milan, but you can get the same pleasure from a piece as a whole pizza (and you’ll be able to walk afterward).
Above all, avoid buffets and all-you-can-eat offers, where you’ll feel pressured to eat “your money’s worth” regardless of flavor or fullness.
#2 Before You Pick Up a Menu, Make a Plan
No news here: having a meal game plan helps you resist social pressure and whim indulgences. Before you step foot in a restaurant, bring your goal to mind and make a plan. How hungry are you? How much do you want to eat?
“A trick I like is to ask for a to-go box as soon as the server delivers your meal or the first time he comes to check on you after your meal arrives,” Fit Bottomed Girls share. “This way you can box up half of the main dish, save yourself the calories and have lunch for the next day ready to go.”
Get out your notebook. Keeping track of what you eat in a food journal or online tracker helps you stay accountable to your nutrition plan even when you’re eating out. I always find that accountability comes in handy when I’m about to pull another just-this-once order of cheesecake.
If you’re faced with a smorgasbord, be methodical: don’t start piling your plate at one end of the buffet and work your way to the other. Scope out the offerings first and decide what you want most. When you return to your table, don’t sit with the food in view.
#3 Choose One Guilty Pleasure
A common restaurant mentality is that we have to pig out in order to make the most of the “special occasion.” While it’s fine to indulge every once in a while, don’t make your once-in-a-while splurges a daily occurrence.
It’s better to choose one guilty pleasure. If you’re having calorie-stuffed cordon bleu, don’t dive into the breadsticks while you’re waiting. “You risk consuming hundreds of calories before your meal even arrives,” say the FBGs.
Not feeling like dessert? You don’t need to “treat” yourself if you don’t want to. If you had a late snack and you’re feeling full, it’s OK to have an appetizer (or even just iced tea) while your friends order entrees. If the portions are huge, split a meal.
“If you’re paying attention, you can have a delicious and nutritious meal out on the town without blowing your diet,” Fit Bottomed Girls promise. Make sure to read about the fast food approach that will keep you slim.