Restaurant Week: Weight Loss Survival Guide to Dining Out

Survival Guide to Dining Out

Restaurant week starts this week!  Are you ready for your restaurant week?  Dining out is a killer to your diet, especially if it is part of your job.  I have numerous patients that entertain their clients for business, travel several times out of the month, and then continue to dine out with their families when they are at home.  So how do you keep it from ruining your waistline?  Here are my top 7 tips to surviving the restaurants.

restaurant week
  1. This is the number one rule:  look at the menu online beforehand.  Sometimes when you get to the restaurant, you feel rushed and end up choosing something that may not be the best choice.  You will need the extra time to look at all the dishes so that you can feel confident that you made a healthy choice.  I’m a foodie.  I love looking at the menu so I can make sure I don’t miss out on any dish by taking the time to look at everything.
  2. Avoid the unnecessary freebies.  You know which restaurants will give you free bread or chips and salsa.  Before you know it, you have already put in an extra 200-400 calories before the meal has even started.  Make it known to your guests that you are saving your appetite for the main dish, and they will leave you alone instead of pushing food at you.
  3. Start with a salad with dressing on the side.  Salad is a great healthy way to start filling up your stomach and tone down that “hangry” feeling just before the entree.  Keep the dressing on the side so that you have control over how much you eat.
  4. Take your knife and fork and cut everything in half.  The portions at all the restaurants these days are humongous!  Make it a natural habit to cut everything in half so that you can make a “normal” portion, and ask the waiter to put the other half in a to go box.
  5. Avoid liquid calories.  Liquid calories are a killer.  I understand that some of you still need that glass of wine or feel really uncomfortable being the only one “not drinking”.  So sip at it and don’t finish it.  For the rest of us, stick to water or unsweetened iced tea, and save those calories for more enjoyable solid foods.
  6. Eat s-l-o-w-l-y.  Remember it takes your body at least 15-20 minutes to even create the full signal in your brain to stop eating.  If you are done in 5 minutes, you have another 10 full minutes to figure out what to do before you even start to feel full.  SLOW down and take smaller bites, and drink water in between.  You might even find yourself not being able to finish your dish by eating more slowly.
  7. Share your dessert.  There are a lucky few who don’t care for dessert.  But us others, it is sometimes hard to avoid especially when the restaurant is good at making fancy desserts.  Find someone at the table to split dessert with you.  Take a few bites to get your fix and put the spoon down.  You can at least satisfy your craving, but then avoid overdoing it when you are sharing with another person.

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Dr. Angela Tran