Leaving the office to grab a bite for lunch or dinner? Here are just a few tips to encourage light and lean restaurant eating.
· Order an appetizer (as long as it’s a healthy one) with a salad or two healthy appetizers instead of a high fat/calorie entree.
· Start with a clear-based soup or salad versus a cream-based soup.
· Ask that the bread basked not be put down on the table. If that’s not an option, make a rule about how much you’ll have before you go, and stick to it!
· At a buffet or salad bar, load up on the vegetables and watch out for high fat toppings and mixtures.
· Portion off half of the entree and share it, or pack it up for another meal.
· Use the opportunity to enjoy what the restaurant is known for by enjoying a small portion of those foods, which are unique, interesting and symbolic of that restaurant, while avoiding ordinary foods that you can have anywhere.
· Substitute fruit, salad or steamed vegetables in place of high fat side dishes.
· Use condiments such as ketchup, mustard, vinegar, lemon and salsa versus butter, sour cream, cheese or creamy sauces.
· Ask for foods “dry” or with sauces on the side.
· Use the “fork trick” for your salad. Instead of piercing the salad then dipping it into dressing, do the reverse. Dip the fork in the dressing first, then pierce the salad. You’ll still get the flavor you love using much less dressing.
Here are a few behavioral strategies you can try:
· With food still left on your plate, casually add some salt, pepper or other seasoning that would make the entree less appealing to you.
· Put your napkin on the plate indicating (even if it’s only to yourself) that you’ve finished.
· Say something like “Wow, that was great! I’m stuffed.” Making a public declaration may make you think twice about digging back in again.
· Push your plate out of reach.
· Put the opposite ends of your utensils onto the plate. Now they’re unpleasant to pick up.
· Pay attention to things like the flavor, texture and aroma the food was designed to give. Being more mindful of your surroundings will help you feel more satisfied with less food.
· When drinking alcohol, pre-plan the amount you’ll have and stick to it. Remember, if you “fail to plan, then plan to fail.”
· Slow down. Put your fork down between bites, drink plenty of water to pace yourself, and enjoy heaping conversations versus heaping portions of food.
An even healthier option may be to brown bag some healthy foods to keep you fueled and filled throughout the day. If that’s your choice, start with a healthy breakfast (or take it with you) and have some healthy snacks available for when hunger strikes. Keep single serving portions of fruit, nuts, low-fat cheese, low-sugar/whole grain bars, etc., and of course drink plenty of water throughout the day. Our thirst mechanisms are often off signaling hunger, when we’re in fact, thirsty.
Restaurant ordering as well as healthy snacking doesn’t have to be a daunting and confusing task. It can be simple, delicious and enjoyable with a few new ideas and some smart choices.