The Problem with Eating Out
Restaurants are in the business to make food that tastes great so that you will want to come back again. They are NOT in business to help you lose weight or to make you healthy. Even if you make great choices, eating out multiple times per week will make it harder for you to reach your goal.
Restaurants add in more sugar, fat, and salt than you would when you cook at home. This adds up over the week. Ultimately, the more times someone eats out in a week, the harder it is to lose weight or improve your health.
We had a client that the only change we made with her was to make her lunch instead of going out for lunch. In the very first week, she dropped over 5 lbs! This was a simple change that helped her lose weight and save a ton of money.
Quick Tips to Make Eating at Home More Likely:
- Plan your dinners. If you plan all your dinners in advance for the week, you will not be stuck trying to figure out what to have for dinner.
- Do your shopping for the entire week. If you buy all the ingredients for your planned dinners, you will not only know what you are having, but you will know you have all the ingredients to make it.
- Write out your dinners and put them on the refrigerator. This way you will know and your family will know what is for dinner so they won’t be asking you that dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?”
- Bring your lunch to work. Here are some ideas:
- Chili – this chili is a very convenient thing for lunch. It makes a good amount and will last you a few days. Even if you have it for dinner and use the leftovers for lunches.
- Quinoa Salad – this quinoa salad you can make in advance and will last a few days. Easy transport and you just eat it cold.
- Burrito Bowl – you can prepare this in advance and either make a bowl in the AM or you can just take the ingredients to work and build it on the fly.
- Enchiladas – you can make this in advance and wrap them up individually and take them to work or just stash them in your refrigerator at work.
- Simple Mason Jar Lunch – You can make these in advance for the entire week. Then grab a jar & go.
When you Must Eat Out – Here are some tips to help you stay on track:
- the eeny meeny miny moe – It all starts with picking the right place to eat. By making the right choice of restaurants, you really open up more options once you are in the restaurant. Ideally, finding a restaurant that serves fresh, locally grown, organic food is the best option. But if that is not an option, stay away from places you know have a lot of fried foods and pick ones that you feel at least have some healthy choices.
- the menutranslatenator – (Okay, obviously we have seen too much Phineas and Ferb, but that Dr. Doofenshmirtz has got some awesome lines.) So, let’s say you could not find a healthy restaurant and you ended up in a chain restaurant or something along those lines. No problem, you will just need to translate the menu. Stay away from words like fried, breaded, battered, buttered, gravy, creamy, saucy…and, for heaven’s sake, please stay away from words like big, large, grande, hearty, huge and ginormous. Stick with things like fresh, seasonal, light and steamed.
- the rico suave – So you could not find anything seasonal, fresh and light on the menu? Well, you may need to move to the “the rico suave tip” (formally known as “be a pain in the butt” tip, but it went through a name change for obvious reasons). It is about charming your server. They are there to make you happy, so you will give them a nice big fat tip. So they should be open to any questions about how their food is prepared. But be nice about it, you don’t want them spitting in your food because you are being a pain in the butt (not that that ever happens). Anyway, I would not nit-pick about everything, just see if they can slightly alter or substitute some of the bad for good. Usually, all restaurants will have some sort seasonal vegetables (if they don’t, go back to the eeny meeny miny moe and start over) and I am sure they will substitute your greasy fries or fatty saucy side dish that comes with what you are eyeballing with some steamed fresh veggies or a side salad.
- the chop su·ey (CHäp ˈso͞oē) – Still no luck? Well, maybe just go for “the chop suey.” Nope, not the dish, but the karate chop method. If you are with someone, order something close to being healthy and just split it. Or order it split and take the other half home or just leave it there (better there than on your hips or stomach or butt or where every you carry your fat reserves). Sometimes we will order a side of steamed veggies and another dish and then just split the two dishes. Either way, you are cutting the bad in half.
- the vegas baby – Don’t want to share? I see how it is! Okay, so they say when you go to Vegas you can be whoever you want to be. So, when eating out pretend you’re in Vegas, pretend you’re a vegetarian. Most restaurants will have at least one vegetarian dish and that will most likely be a healthier option than the others. At least you are cutting significant caloric intake and animal fats by ordering in this fashion.
- the when harry met sally – Still have not found anything? If all else fails, I go with what I call “the when harry met sally” – order a salad, but with the dressing on the side. Generally, salads should be healthy, but restaurants can take something healthy like a salad and destroy the calories, sodium, fat and sugar content through the dressing. So just order it on the side and dip your fork for some flavor now and then. You won’t use even a fraction of what they bring you.
Final tips, stay away from the bread & appetizers and order unsweetened tea or water to drink.
And, if you need dessert, fresh fruit is a great option.