- Include a salad with every meal. Whether it’s the main part of your meal or a starter, include some greens. But look out for salads that have more cheese and dressing than green. Ask for the dressing on the side.
- Skip the white bread. Unless you know you can have just a few bites and then push it away. The exception being when it’s homemade and fresh, but even then try to savor just one piece. If your food comes on bread, for example, a lobster roll, chicken sandwich, or hamburger, try to eat just half of the bread, think open-style sandwich. Of course, this may be a little hard with a wrap sandwich or a lobster roll. Chances are, however, if you are ordering a lobster roll it’s a 1-2 x per year thing and you might as well indulge all the way. (See my dinner picture in my previous blog entry—wow that was delicious!)
- Avoid fried foods. OK, this seems obvious, I know. But sometimes fried foods are hidden in the menu and not as easy to spot. Think “golden fish tacos” or “crispy chicken salad”…ask how it’s prepared and if you can substitute grilled or broiled fish or chicken.
If you do treat yourself to French fries try to eat a portion-sized serving. How many French fries are in a serving you ask? About 10-11 skinny fries. Wait, 10-11??? But don’t you get like 50 when you order a meal with fries? Yes, usually you get way more than you need. The trick is being able to eat just some and then pushing the plate away. Savor the taste of those 10 fries. If you know you can’t do this then skip the French fries to begin with or eat them all with joy but make it a once a month treat. (The same goes for any other food that may trigger you to eat too much).
- Eat half of your dinner. Realize that it’s ok to not eat everything on your plate when eating out. Many restaurants give us gigantic sized portions. For example, if you order pasta you often get 3 cups (plus 3 tablespoons of butter)—when 1 serving of grains is actually just half a cup of pasta!
- This brings me to: know your portion sizes. A half cup of cooked rice is a serving of grains—so if you are getting a rice bowl packed with meat and sauce in addition to rice, well, chances are that it’s pretty high in calories. If pizza is in the cards, go for 2-3 slices of thin crust or 1-2 slices of thick crust and pair with a salad. Sushi is a healthier option, but all those rolls do add up, especially if they have rice and sauce, so don’t treat sushi as a chance to eat unlimited amounts.
- Drink water or unsweetened tea or club soda. These drinks add zero calories to your meal and may quench some of your hunger in addition to your thirst. If you want a glass of beer or wine, make it a full-bodied one and then slowly sip and savor.
- Check out calorie information ahead of time if available.
- If something seems rich or calorie-packed, it probably is.
- Ask for extra vegetables.
- A good option is often to skip the entrée and order an appetizer or soup and a salad.
- When in doubt, order anything but only eat half.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog: dining out with kids.