Eating out when you're trying to lose weight can be intimidating. Portion control and fat content can be much easier to manage when you stay at home, but going to a restaurant with friends can be a welcome and necessary breath of fresh air in an otherwise stressful day. Here are five tricks you can put into practice to make eating out while maintaining a healthy lifestyle (and your weight) less daunting.
1. Eat smaller portions
Eating only half of what's on your plate can be tough, especially when you're done and everyone else seems to be just getting started. The temptation is to continue eating right along with the others. To remedy this, ask for a take-out container to arrive with your order. Put approximately half of your food into the container before you savour the first mouthful. Pace yourself with what's left, eating slowly so you finish at the same time as the others.
2. Choose roasted over fried
French fries are the ultimate comfort food for some, but roasted potatoes done right can be a satisfying substitute. Roasted potatoes often come caramelized and crisp and can include spices such as rosemary or garlic, which make them even tastier than plain ol' naked fries.
3. Mix and match
Diet pop can have a bitter aftertaste, and though the argument is still ongoing, the general consensus is that artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, can be worse for you than sugar. One solution might be to ask for your favourite pop mixed half-and-half with soda water. The result is less syrupy, a little more bubbly, but with the same sweet taste. You won't notice the calories you're missing.
4. Skip the bun
When a burger is what you crave, ask the server to hold the bun. Many places will serve you the same, great-tasting burger, complete with all your favourite condiments, in a bowl and with a knife and fork. Skip the fries in favour of a side salad, remember the mix-and-match-soda trick, and you have a well-balanced, satisfying meal.
5. Keep it simple
Rather than choose intricate menu options, go for the ones with the fewest ingredients. The less processed the food, the healthier it will be. Rather than choose a dish like chicken parmigiana--which is often breaded and fried, topped with tomato sauce (extra salt) and cheese (extra fat)--choose a roasted chicken quarter with a side of veggies. You could discard the skin if you like, but seeing as you've already avoided the consumption of quite a bit of fat, why not treat yourself to something crispy and full of flavour?
Eating healthy does not mean shying away from restaurants and social outings. All it takes is a little ingenuity and will power. Whether you're at a fast food chain or a Mr Mike's SteakhouseCasual, these tips can be helpful. Before you know it, the tricks will become habits and you'll discover that maintaining a healthy diet and a balanced lifestyle, including the occasional indulgence of a restaurant meal, is nothing short of a breeze.