I’ve been guilty of it on more than one occasion: what I like to call the sneaky out-for-dinner calorie creep. I eat clean, train mean during the day, then make plans to meet friends at a restaurant for dinner. Despite my best intentions to eat a small, well-balanced and healthful meal, once I sit down and look at the menu, things go out the window and I blow my daily calories out.
I know I’m not alone. No matter how disciplined your eating is at home, eating out can often be a recipe for disaster if you’re trying to watch your weight. But it doesn’t have to be! I’ve learnt you CAN go out to eat, have a great time and come home without feeling like you need a crane to help you get into bed.
Healthy Eating Out Guides
Our 12WBT dietitian, Georgie Moore, has created healthy eating out guides to save us when temptation is all around. She covers lots of popular cuisines like Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese. Her tips can help you save hundreds of calories when you’re next out for dinner.
Love a Friday night at the pub? Make the best food and drink choices, while still having a great time with your mates.
Top 5 Eating Out Tips
- Have a Plan: Making healthy choices can start well before you’ve taken a seat at the dinner table. If you can, look at the restaurant’s menu online so you don’t have to look at a menu (and be tempted) when you arrive. No healthy options? Consider trying a different place.
- Eat s-l-o-w-l-y: You probably know it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that it’s full, so put that fork down between bites, and enjoy the company of your dining companions.
- Order Two Entrees: Skip the main course and order two entrées instead. Better yet, have a salad as your first course (and ask for dressing on the side). Ask the waiter to bring out the second entrée when the main courses comes out. You’ll feel included, can taste more foods and save on calories.
- Skip the Cocktails: Fancy cocktails like pina coladas or margaritas are loaded with sugar and calories, so avoid them like the plague. If you fancy an alcoholic drink, go for a glass of wine, light beer or simple vodka soda with fresh lime. Be sure to drink lots of still or sparkling water during your meal to keep you hydrated and your tummy feeling full.
- Have Dessert at Home: A couple of squares of dark chocolate or scoop of low-fat ice-cream, or yoghurt and berries is a far better choice than the ‘Triple Choc Ice-Cream Sundae Calorie Blast’ that’s usually on the menu. If you must, order one dessert for the table and enjoy a couple of bites each. Ordering a tea or coffee after your meal is a good way to participate in the after-dinner fun without loading up on unnecessary calories.
Video: Michelle Bridges’ Tips for Eating Out
Download the Tips for Eating Out infographic as a PDF.