How to Maintain Weight Loss and Still Eat Out

If you’re in the process of losing weight or have lost weight and want to maintain that loss, you may be wary of restaurants. The truth is, you can still eat out at restaurants without packing on the pounds.  It’s all about smart strategies to order the best choices and bring balance into your diet.

As more and more of us rely on restaurants during our busy days, whether it’s a breakfast on the run, a work lunch with your team or a weeknight dinner between kids’ activities, it’s more important than ever to treat ourselves well as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy Dining’s dietitians have compiled this list of tips to help you dine out without the worry:

  • Order smaller portions. It’s no secret that many restaurants offer super-sized portions that can equal two to three meals’ worth of food. It may be good for the budget but not so much for the waistline. Look for smaller sized or “just right” portions that are popping up more and more frequently on menus. Mix and match a few smaller a la carte items so you can create a portion that’s right for you.
  • Fill half your plate with fruit and veggies. Naturally lower in calories and higher in fiber, these foods can help fill you up. Do ask questions about preparation to avoid hidden higher calorie ingredients such as cream or butter.
  • Fuel up with breakfast. A solid breakfast can set you up for a whole day of smart choices. At restaurants, try an egg white omelet with veggies, whole wheat toast and fresh fruit; or oatmeal with a splash of low-fat milk and fresh fruit.  These choices all pair lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and veggies.
  • Choose lean proteins.  Seafood, poultry, certain cuts of beef like sirloin and meatless options such as tofu and beans have been linked to a healthier weight. As with vegetables, opt for healthier preparation methods, such as grilling, broiling, steaming, or baking.
  • Plan ahead. Science has shown that we have a limited amount of willpower. Give yours a boost with a plan of when, where, and what you are going to eat throughout the day. If you’re going out to eat, use to find restaurant meals low in calories and saturated fat.
  • Don’t get bogged down by lunch. An entrée salad with lean protein (e.g., salmon, chicken breast) or a sandwich with lean protein and extra veggies could fit the bill, leaving you satisfied without setting you up for a mid-afternoon energy crash.
  • Ask questions. Always ask the server how a menu item is prepared and what comes with it to help you make a decision and customize your choices as needed.
  • Request less oil, butter, cheese, etc. This simple tweak, along with requesting dressings and sauces on the side, can help shave calories and saturated fat off you meals effortlessly.
  • Make swaps. If your meal comes with sides such as fries or creamy coleslaw, request a side salad or fresh fruit instead.
    Don’t feel like you need to clean your plate. Gauge portions when your plate arrives and eat mindfully until you’re satisfied.

Weight loss isn’t easy, but losing even a small amount can improve total health.  These tips can help you lose or maintain weight loss without your feeling deprived.

What other strategies do you follow when eating out to maintain weight loss?