While eating out is definitely a treat, you don’t have to ruin your whole diet in order to dine. (Seriously!) Nutritionist Marcus Avila gives us the shortcuts to keep us on track – even when dining out.
Skip The Soda
If you’re watching your weight skipping the soft drinks is the place to start. While regular soda contains lots of sugar and calories, diet soda can be harmful to your waistline as well. “People think diet soda is better but is not,” Avila says. “Numerous studies have shown that the artificial sweetener in diet drinks makes your body hold on to fat. So dropping soda all together is best for weight loss and overall health.”
Don’t Feel Pressure to Finish Your Plate
“Portions at restaurants are huge! In reality we should be eating half that much.” Avila says. Instead of feeling the pressure to finish what’s on your plate, box up the rest and save it for later. “Take half of your meal home,” he suggests. “There’s something great about leftovers for the next day. Plus, you’ll be cutting your calories in half.”
Hands Off The Chips (or Bread Basket)
Chips and salsa at your favorite Mexican restaurant is quite the temptation. While indulging in chips in moderation is fine, for some it’s better to skip them all together. “I always tell people to steer clear of chips and the bread basket at restaurants,” says Avila. “Although a few chips or a slice of bread won’t kill your diet, many of us don’t know where to stop, and the calories can add up quickly.” Avila suggests asking for raw vegetables instead of chips to dip in salsa. “Raw carrots, cherry tomatoes, and especially cucumbers are great for dipping in salsa!”
Add Coffee or Tea To Your Meal
Many of us would never think of having coffee or tea with our meals. However, this is a normal occurrence in many other countries. “Having espresso at the end of your meal is common in European countries, and having tea is a staple in many Asian countries,” Avila explains. “Both coffee and tea are diuretics which can act as an appetite suppressant.” Avila suggests adding coffee or tea towards the end of your meal to help you feel fuller and prevent you from over-eating (or ordering that dessert!). Worried about the caffeine but still want to try it out? Just drink half. Decaffeinated drinks, unfortunately, don’t suppress your appetite like caffeinated ones.
Beware of Salads
You may think you are doing yourself a favor by ordering a salad, but the truth is many of these salads have more calories than other meals. “Some of these restaurant salads have more calories than a Big Mac!” Avila says. “If you’re going for salad, make sure you look for ones that are free of bacon and lots of cheese and have more raw vegetables instead. Also, always ask for your dressing on the side because otherwise the calories can quickly add up.”
Looking to order dessert? Make sure you share it! Having a couple bites will help feed that sweet tooth with out going overboard. “You have to live your life and indulge in sweets,” Avila explains. “I always suggest sharing dessert because even if that dessert is as much as 1,000 calories, eating half of that or taking a few bites will make big difference!” Avila suggests even asking the server to bring extra spoons so you will be “forced” to share your dessert with others. “If the spoons there you almost have to offer share or you can look rude, so it’s a great way to keep yourself in check.”
Go Easy On The Booze
While most of us love a glass of wine, or a delicious margarita, alcohol can make you pack on the pounds quickly! Skipping booze all together or limiting yourself to one drink is best for weight loss and overall health. “Alcohol can make you gain weight fast, and can also make it more difficult to lose weight.” Avila says. “It’s best to ditch drinks all together or just have one drink at dinner, like a glass of wine, or a light beer. This way you can enjoy the taste, but your body won’t pay for it later.”