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Plan Ahead for Healthy Choices Dining Out

By Expert HERWriter
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If you’re like most people, you head out to a restaurant with the best of intentions. But as soon as you smell the food cooking or see the pretty pictures of all those high-fat foods on the menu, your brain shuts off and your mouth takes over and you order things you know aren’t good for you. So how can you keep control when you’re eating out? For me, it’s all a mind game. Here’s how I like to play.

Before I go into a restaurant, I take a minute to think about my goal. Do I want to fit into the cute, skinny jeans? Or will I be content in the elastic waist “fat pants”? The choice is mine, just like the choice of what to order off the menu. When I give myself the mental image of how good I can look in those jeans, it’s a lot easier to make smart choices that will help me reach my goal.

Another trick that works for me is making sure I’m not too hungry before I order. I like to carry some low-cal, high protein snacks like roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds or nuts. If I take the edge off my hunger before I head out to a restaurant, I know I’ll be able to make better choices and resist the temptations that are waiting for me on the menu.

I also make sure I drink plenty of water. That’s true every day. But I also know water takes up space in my stomach which makes me feel less hungry. So I try to drink some water before and during the meal rather than stuffing myself on high-calorie foods.

When it’s time to order, I try to pick the freshest foods on the menu. I like to ask what vegis are in season and chose from those because I know they’ll taste better and be more nutritious. That also means I don’t need sauces or seasonings to make my vegis taste better. I order them steamed or cooked in a tiny bit of olive oil. Skipping the seasonings and sauces is a good plan for the whole meal to keep fat and calories low.

Even if you make really good choices, the portion sizes at many restaurants can undo all your good planning if you eat the whole thing. If it’s too hard for you to stop without cleaning your plate, start the meal by moving half your food into a carry-out container.

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EmpowHER Guest

Thanks for the tips Michelle! I love that you're encouraging dining out as it can be included in a healthy lifestyle with the right tools & information!

August 3, 2012 - 10:16am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.